Managua rests on the southwestern shore of Lake Xolotlán, the Momotombo stratovolcano rising in the distance. Humans have inhabited this lakeshore for millennia; the footprints of Acahualinca, preserved in rock hard volcanic mud, are estimated to date back 4,000 years. Spanish Managua was established in 1819, on the site of a former Nahuatl settlement.
Managua became the capital of Nicaragua in 1852—a split-the-difference compromise between liberal Leon and conservative Granada. The choice was mixed blessing; Managua enjoys pleasant weather for much of the year, but a seismic fault runs under the city. Severe earthquakes are expected at least once every fifty years. In the last century, devastating tumblers occurred in 1931 and 1972. The 1972 quake destroyed much of the city, including the Catedral Santiago de los Caballeros. The city's new commercial zones have risen to the south.
It's true that Managua has faults, but its citizens seem to have a compensatory resilience. Even after decades of dictatorship and revolution, you'll find hard evidence of forgiveness and reconciliation. The Park of Peace, located near the old cathedral, displays the burned and concrete-encrusted remains of weapons—AK47s and even a whole tank—discarded after the civil war between the Contras and Sandinistas.
Still, recent history looms large in Managua. A giant metal silhouette of General Augusto Sandino crowns the National Historic Park Loma de Tiscapa, visible from across the city. This is the site of a former presidential palace and a prison, built on the rim of a volcanic crater lake.
Other worthwhile sites include the lakefront boardwalk, the monument to Simon Bolivar, the National History Museum, and the new cathedral. The lavish National Theater and a nearby park are named in honor of Rubén Dario, Nicaragua's most celebrated poet.
Direct flights link Managua to Miami (2.5 hours) and Atlanta (under 4 hours). Regional flights connect the capital to San Jose and Panama City. Private land transfers can be arranged from northern Costa Rica (2 hours) and southern Honduras (3.25 hours).
In general, the best time to visit is December through March, when the rains have passed but the landscape is still fresh and green. September and November mark the height of the May to November rainy season. The city's malinche trees are in brilliant bloom from April to August.
Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in Managua 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.
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