Leon is a symbol of Nicaragua's vitality, optimism and creativity. The original Leon was founded in 1524 on the shores of Lake Xolotlan, 20 miles southeast of the current location. After the devastating 1610 eruption of the Momotombo Volcano, the city was reestablished at a safer distance.
Even with that false start, Leon bursts with colonial architecture. The city's main plaza is anchored by the largest church in Central America: the Cathedral of the Assumption, completed in 1740. Its flanking bell towers, which offer excellent views of the city, were added over the next 40 years. Half a dozen other spectacular churches grace the city center, brightly arrayed in yellow, pink and white. The home of Ruben Dario, Nicaragua's iconic poet, is also located here.
Leon is the site of Nicaragua's first university and the traditional stronghold of the country's liberal movement. Granada, 75 miles to the southeast, was the center of the country's conservative power base. After independence, a 20-year feud between the cities ended in 1858 when the nation split the difference, establishing the capital in Managua.
Visitors to Leon can hike six nearby volcanoes. Our favorite is the active, black-sand Cerro Negro—two hours hiking up and a quick snowboard ride down. Other day trips include visits to Old Leon (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), excursions to the Pacific beaches of Poneloya and Las Peñitas (20 minutes from Leon), and horseback riding at local ranches.
Leon is located 50 miles (90 minutes) northwest of Managua. Granada, 70 miles to the southeast, can be reached in about two hours.
Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in Leon and throughout Nicaragua. We organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, and tours with expert guides. Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.
"You make the road by walking it."