Yesterday we went to check out Leon! It was awesome! It was the first capitol of Nicaragua and is one of the oldest cities in Central America! It was founded in 1524 by Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba. The Nicaraguan currency, the Cordoba, still bears his name today. The original city was destroyed in 1610 when the volcano Momotombo erupted and buried the old city. The inhabitants founded New Leon about 20 miles away in 1610 and began rebuilding their city. The ruins of the original Leon were excavated in 1960 but we didn't get to see them on this trip.
We did get to ride the lions in front of the Catholic cathedral though!! SPANISH 101: Leon means Lion in Spanish. There are tons of Lion statues throughout the city.
|It's hard to tell from the photo but these lions are up on a tall pedestal. Layne was about 7.5 feet up in the air and he wasn't a fan.|
Leon is also home to the largest Cathedral in Central America. It's known as the big white cathedral in Leon or the Leon Cathedral but it's long name is: Real e Insigne Basílica de la Asunción de la Bienaventurada Virgen María. It's very big and very beautiful!
|There was a large crowd yesterday because after the 9:00am mass, or maybe as part of it, about a dozen or so kids were receiving their first communion. Lots of happy people taking pictures and exchanging congratulatory gifts.|
We got to climb a VERY narrow staircase up to the rooftop! It is all painted white and the preserve the paint we removed our shoes. From the rooftop you have a 360* view of the whole city! There are 17 Catholic churches in Leon, many of which can be seen from the cathedral.
|Here's that narrow staircase!|
|It was BRIGHT!|
|Our city guide for the morning was Alejandro. He did a great job leading us around and teaching us about Leon! He was so patient with the kids. They also did a great job!|
Below are some pictures of an incredible mural painted along 3 walls in one of the central squares of downtown Leon. The mural depicts the history of Leon from the 1500s until the present day. Much of it is symbolic and a lot of it is very tragic. I thought this part of the tour was so fascinating! Nicaraguan history is frought with wars, bloodshed, fighting, being conquered and seeking revenge.
|Here you can see Spanish armor and indigenous weapons littered around after a battle.|
After seeing the mural, the cathedral and walking around the main center of Leon we walked to the Museum of Legends and Traditions. There we learned about a lot of the folklore in Nicaragua. Much of it revolves around the time the Spanish arrived. In addition to showcasing the Nicaraguan legends this building was used as a prison and torture chamber in the time of the Somoza dynasty from the 1920s to 1979.
|Redick is standing next to one of the Freedom Fighters that fought to overthrow the Somozas|
|I thought this statue was really moving. It represents the many battles and hardships that Nicaragua has experienced over time but after every disaster they pick themselves up again and carry on.|
|A mural depicting some methods of torture used in this jail during the Somoza dynasty.|
|Audrey trying out an ox yoke|
On our way home from the city of Leon we drove home via the Pacific coast and checked out a couple of the beaches in the department of Leon. These beaches are only about 1.5 hours from Managua rather than the 2.5 hours to the beaches in San Juan del Sur. All are beautiful!