Granada Nicaragua: a colonial city with history on the shores of Lake Nicaragua
The city of Granada is the oldest city in Nicaragua. This captivating city is historically considered one of the most vital cities in Nicaragua both politically and economically. Granada is located on the central Pacific side, northwest of Lake Nicaragua also known as Lake Cocibolca and was founded on December 8, 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba. Its current population is estimated at 191,000 inhabitants with a very rich colonial heritage that is clearly visible in its architecture and culture. The city of Granada is also known as the Great Sultana of the Great Lake or the Great Sultan of the Great Lake.
The remarkable history of Granada
Granada was named after the ancient Spanish city of Granada by Hernández de Córdoba, who founded the great city. During the colonial era, the city of Granada flourished maintaining a good level of trade with the Atlantic ports through the San Juan River and Lake Cocibolca. During this trading period, Granada was raided many times by different English, French and Dutch pirates who were trying to control Nicaragua.
For many years Granada fought with León for the status of capital of Nicaragua. Granada was favored by the Conservatives, while Léon was favored by the Liberals. In the mid-1800s a compromise was agreed and the capital was finally established in the smaller city of Managua between the two opposing colonial cities. After this, Granada was searched, enslaved and destroyed by the North American filibusters. Today, Granada is the most visited city by tourists in Nicaragua.
Granada’s vibrant culture and economy
Granada, like most cities in the Nicaraguan Pacific, is populated mainly by Spanish-speaking mestizos and whites. Although Nicaragua has no official religion, it is more or less still dominated by Roman Catholics, as Protestant groups are more divided. Practicing Roman Catholics are no longer in the majority and are declining, while different Evangelical Protestant groups and Mormons have grown rapidly since the 1990s.
Granada has long been a center of commerce that focused primarily on the trade in wood, gold, and silver. Granada’s economy continues to grow as it becomes the national tourist hub. Although Granada remains the fourth largest city in Nicaragua, it is widely known for preserving some of the country’s best colonial-era architecture.
Unique activities and events in Granada
There are six main churches in the city of Granada, the Cathedral, La Merced, Guadalupe, Xalteva, San Francisco and María Auxiliadora, all of which have interesting historical backgrounds and are in very different states. Another attraction of Granada is the volcanic reserve where people observe the wide land, see Lake Managua and rejoice in the beautiful nature that surrounds the volcano.
Lake Nicaragua is the tenth largest freshwater lake in the world, the second largest in Latin America, and the largest in Central America. Granada has easy access to this huge lake, which also gives access to the extraordinary group of islets that lie close to the shore. These islets, or “Las Isletas” as they are called locally in Spanish, are made up of a group of 365 islets of volcanic origin. A popular activity is taking a boat trip to and around various islets. There is also a boat that goes to the volcanic islands of Ometepe located in the middle of the lake.
People also visit the Granada Butterfly Garden, which has many different species of butterflies. Species include the large blue Morpho peleides, as well as bright yellow, orange, and white butterflies. Butterflies come in all sizes and colors. Walking through the enclosed garden allows people to easily observe many of them up close.