Granada lies on the west coast of the Nicaragua lake, on the foot of the Mombacho volcano. It is the oldest city in Nicaragua and preserves the Colonial style of its first Spanish inhabitants. Granada’s history dates back to the first conquistadors and the era of William Walker. The city is also called “La gran sultana” (the big raisin), due to the Moorish and Andalusian architectural styles, whereas León displays a more Castilian style. Granada was named capital many times, always competing with its rival city León. Nowadays, Granada has become one of the biggest cities in Nicaragua and is a major tourist hot spot.
In 1524, the Spanish emperor Francisco Hernándes de Córdoba founded Granada. During the Colonial era, Granada was an important port for tobacco and cocoa trade, with connections to Cartagena, Guatemala, San Salvador, Panama and Peru. Due to the increasing wealth of the city during this time, it got attacked by pirates three times. Then, in 1856, the American filibuster William Walker captured and later destroyed the city. William Walker resided in Granada and he is also a former president of Nicaragua.
Visiting Granada will set you back in time and suddenly you will find yourself in the Colonial era. The central square is the heart of the city. Framed by colonial style buildings you can taste the typical dish vigorón and observe the locals relaxing under the shady trees. From the central square, the pedestrian street La Calzada leads down towards the Nicaragua lake. You can stroll along the street and marvel over the architecture. The colonial houses are nicely renovated and turned into restaurants, hotels, or small shops. At the end of the street you will reach the malecón. From here, ferries leave to Ometepe island and other coastal towns, or you can take a boat trip to the archipelago Las Isletas.
Most sights gather around the central square. The cathedral on the main square is one of the most important colonial style building in Central America. North from the square, you will pass the international culture center Casa de los tres Mundos. Heading a bit more East, you will reach the Convento de San Francisco, the first church and convent built by colonists. Now the building includes a museum about the architecture in Granada and an exhibition on pre-Colombian statues. West from the main square is the Church La Merced with a colonial style ground plot and a baroque facade. If you are too tired to walk, you can also take on of the colorful adorned horse-drawn carriages to explore the city and all its major sights.