Old fortress of San Carlos

The history of Río San Juan, written by Spanish chroniclers, says that upon arrival, they found this place populated by different indigenous tribes, including the Guatusos, Melchoras, Chorotegas and Pipiles, who were possibly the first to arrive. at the mouth of the San Juan River, where they settled, these were of Nahuatl origin.

Several towns founded by the natives were burned by themselves, so that they were not occupied by the Spanish conquerors.

And it was on these ruins that the Spanish built their first cities such as: Nueva Jaén, San Juan de la Cruz, then San Juan del Norte, today San Juan de Nicaragua, Brussels, El Castillo; but more than cities, they were military forts that defended the trade routes and the cities of the Pacific.

The Nueva Jaén city was founded in 1526, but was abandoned for several decades to be re-founded as San Carlos during the seventeenth century. The fortress built in 1666, today the José Coronel Urtecho Cultural Center, was used to provide support to the El Castillo post, which was frequently raided by British and Dutch pirates.

During colonial times, the San Juan River region was important, above all, as a transit route, through this river many merchants from Granada began to establish large cattle ranches along the shore of Lake Nicaragua, in addition to livestock, at that time the trade in rubber, raicilla and cocoa stood out.

In 1949, San Carlos was part of the territory of the department of Río San Juan when east of Chontales was segregated and in 1989 it was legalized as a municipality and as a departmental head.

Artistic expressions and manifestations

Solentiname is the cradle of artists, among them artisans, painters and poets; its artists are spokespersons for nature and have the gift of creating and recreating. They share the philosophy of working and living in harmony with nature. Balsa wood crafts and primitive painters stand out.

Craft trades

Balsa Wood Crafts

Artisanal fishing, making balsa wood crafts, carpentry.

Local figures who have contributed to the history and culture of the town.

Carlos Aguirre Marín, musician, composer and writer, author of the Corrido a Río San Juan.

Diego Aguirre Marín, composer, singer and primitivist painter.

Eddy Chavarria, was a member of the group Los Cachurinos, interpreters of the Corrido a Río San Juan.

Rodolfo Arellano, primitivist painter of international prestige.

Salvadora Henríquez de Noguera, forerunner of primitivist painting in Nicaragua.

Eduardo Guido Talavera, popular musician.

Roberto Vallecillo, dance teacher.

Nubia Arcia, Henry Sandino Flores, Mercedes Balladares and Dolores Villalta are some of the entrepreneurs who have contributed to the development of tourism in the region.

Carlos Bravo, writer.

José Arana known as the corporal, sculptor from Solentiname.

Gabriel Aguirre Marín singer-songwriter from San Carlos.

Juanita Sandino, one of the first teachers of San Carlos.

Carlos Matamoros known as Don Chale, historian.

Carlos Cantillano (father), one of the first saddlers of San Carlos.

Ernesto “Chato” Medrano, participated in the assault on the Somoza Guard barracks in the 80s, with great courage he stayed to cover the withdrawal of his comrades who were on a mission to take over the barracks. When he was wounded, he decided to stay And fight to the death

Other sites of historical and cultural interest

Our Lady of Solentiname Church

The looker: It is a space where there are still some cannons that are more than 400 years old that were used in the Castillo de la Inmaculada Concepción Fortress, this viewpoint was used by the Spanish as a lookout post in order to see what type of ships were approaching to the town of San Carlos from both Lake Nicaragua, the San Juan River and the Frío River.

From this viewpoint you can see the Solentiname Archipelago, El Cachimbón, a sunken steamer from the time of the Transit Route where many North Americans sailed through Lake Nicaragua and the San Juan River to reach the Atlantic Ocean on their way to California. In the northern part of the viewpoint you can also see the Frío River, whose waters are very deep and which functions as a natural border with Costa Rica.

This is a site very visited by local, national and foreign tourists for its scenic beauty and the jewels of great historical value.


In San Carlos is the Solentiname Archipelago, which is made up of 36 islands of various sizes, in its largest islands there are small towns where the inhabitants are dedicated to making handicrafts with balsa wood and naive painting or primitivist painting. , known nationally and internationally.

San Carlos has many workshops of balsa wood, clay, palm and different materials of the place. They stand out in the fairs held in the different regions of the country, among them are the crafts of the Solentiname Archipelago.

Mancarrón Archeology Museum

Lidia Castillo Romero, Rodolfo Obando, Elena Pineda, Rodolfo Arellano, José Arana and Elba Jiménez, among others, work all kinds of animals, figures made with balsa wood, under an artistic technique that is only used in those islands.

In the Solentiname Archipelago you can visit the Indigenous Cemeteries from where most of the archaeological pieces and vestiges found in the Solentiname Museum have been extracted, one is located in the Ortega sector and the other in the Loma Blanquita.

You will also find the The monument to the fallen onesEl Peñón viewpoint and Our Lady of Solentiname Church, a legend historical point of Christianity and revolution, all in the Mancarrón island.

Here you will find paintings that represent the past of its inhabitants and different petroglyphsArtists' Workshop House (UPAS), It is a workshop where they make balsa wood handicrafts. If you want to know more about the petroglyphs that exist in the archipelago, you can make a stop at La Venada Island.


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