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Explore León, Nicaragua - An Exclusive Guide

A perfect day in... León, Nicaragua

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This vibrant city pulses with energy, from the lively bars and restaurants to the magnificent architecture and dazzling art collections – not to mention the surrounding volcanoes.

What to see in León

Formerly Nicaragua’s capital, León is full of reminders of the city’s turbulent political past, from colorful murals depicting Sandinista heroes, to old anti-American slogans. Marvel at the eye-catching images, daubed between the early 1950s and the late 70s, as you wander through the city center.

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Don’t miss the impressive León Cathedral, the largest in Central America. Originally built in 1610, the current baroque-style masterpiece is the cathedral’s fourth incarnation, constructed primarily by indigenous laborers over more than a hundred years. Inside, you’ll find the tomb of the poet Rubén Darío, as well as important artworks including the wooden El Cristo Negro de Pedrarias statue, possibly the oldest Catholic image in the Americas, brought here from Spain in 1528. On a clear day, head up to the roof for spectacular views over the city and surrounding volcanoes.

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Three blocks north of the cathedral sits the Iglesia de la Recolección, a Mexican-style baroque construction of swirling columns and bas-relief medallions that is considered the city’s most beautiful church. Admire its lavishly-decorated façade before heading inside to gaze at the mahogany columns and ceiling decorated with harvest motifs.

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What to do in León

Explore one of the finest collections of contemporary art in all of Central America at the Explore one of the finest collections of contemporary art in all of Central America at the Centro de Arte Fundación Ortiz Gurdián. Spread across two buildings, the art on show includes works by Picasso, Chagall, Miró, and a number of noted Nicaraguan artists – but it’s the pieces by Latin American masters like Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo and Fernando Botero that truly define the collection.

History buffs will love the Museo Historico de la Revolución, which charts the city’s revolutionary history, starting with the devastating earthquake of 1972 and finishing with the Sandinista overthrow. Best of all, you’ll be shown around by former revolutionaries themselves, who can tell you all about their role in the conflict.

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For something totally different, plan a day trip to one of the local beaches - two of the best, Las Peñitas and Poneloya, are just a 15-minute drive away from the city center. There you’ll find golden sands, lively beach bars and bustling cafés serving up the freshest of fish.

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What to eat in León

There are plenty of local delicacies to try in León, from nacatamales – Nicaragua’s national dish of pork corn dough bundles wrapped in banana leaves – to fritangas (barbecued beef, pork or chicken served with rice and beans) and tostones (fried green plantains). The best place to sample these is at the popular Mercado Central, just across the road from the cathedral.

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The city is also proud of its many street food stalls, and rightly so. Don’t leave without trying the fried dough ball buñuelos, washed down with a pinolillo, a drink made from ground corn and cocoa powder mixed with water or milk.

For more information, go to visitnicaragua.us

This article has been written for review purposes only and does not suggest sponsorship or endorsement of AARDY by the trademark owner.

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