Not too far from Jicaro lies one of Nicaragua’s most bustling, culturally rich cities—Leon—a place where poets dream and streetscapes stun. Alive with history and bustling with life, Leon is one of the world’s most interesting cities. Here are some fun facts you should know before heading there for visit.
The original Leon is 20 miles away
The original Leon was built in 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba but the eruption of Momotombo Volcano in 1610 forced citizens out of the city to nearby Native American town Subtiava. There, a new Leon was erected and has since grown into one of the most influential cities in the country. The ruins of the original Leon were excavated in 1960 and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Momotombo Volcano is still active today
Unlike some of the world’s other volcanos, which resemble sleepy green hills more than fire breathing mountains of ash, the Momotombo Volcano is still active today. In fact, in 2015 it erupted for the first time in 110 years. We’re talking ash clouds, lava, the works! Luckily, the explosions were too far away to cause anyone harm.
Leon is home to Central America’s second oldest university
The National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (NAUN) has been around since 1812 making it the oldest University in Nicaragua. Nicaraguans come from around the country to study at NUAN during the school year breathing life into the sometimes sleepy city. Famous alumni include poet and revolutionary Rosario Murillo and writer Sergio Ramirez.
Leon was in the running to be Nicaragua’s capital
For years Leon and neighbouring city Granada fought mercilessly over which city would be capital. Which one of them won? Neither! Nearby city Managua became capital as it was conveniently located between Leon and Granada.
Leon is full of secret underground passageways
You may have heard of Leon’s famous Cathedral of Assumption—a world famous heritage site that took over 65 years to build— but not everyone knows about the network of tunnels running beneath the church. The tunnels connect the cathedral to the city’s other churches and were built as a means of quick escape from attacks and pirate loots.