This morning we enjoy a short city tour of Managua by bus. On this orientation tour, you have the opportunity to explore both the historical and modern facets of the city and learn about the interesting events that took place not too long ago. Your first stop is Tiscapa Crater Lake where you have superb views over the entire city. On a clear day, you will be able to see several volcanoes which lay north of the city. You can't miss the large silhouette of the famous revolutionary General Sandino statue that stands overlooking the Tiscapa Crater Lake. Next, we head over to the old city, where you can see the National Palace, the Old Cathedral, the National Theatre and the President's house. We will end this tour at the Malecon, Managua's favourite hangout at the lake for a drink.
Next we head to Leon Viejo. The first capital of Nicaragua, Leon Viejo (Old Leon) was founded in 1524 by the Spanish conquistadores, south of the Momotombo Volcano, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area suffered frequent volcanic activity, culminating in the earthquakes of 1594 and 1610. The city was not destroyed by the 1610 earthquake, but due to the damage caused to the infrastructure by the seismic activity, the settlers held a referendum and decided to relocate the city to its present location, about 20 miles to the west. The old city was gradually buried by the continuous expulsions of ash and volcanic stone coming from Momotombo, and by lake sediments. The ruins of Leon Viejo were discovered in 1967 and excavations began the following year revealing that the city had a similar layout to other cities in America at that time, laid out on a grid system with a main square located at its centre. Leon Viejo is the only 16th century colonial city in America that has never suffered city-planning alterations during its history.
Finally, we head to Leon where we will have an orientation tour on arrival. We explore the rich cultural and political history of one of Nicaragua's oldest and most influential cities. Defined by its graceful Spanish colonial architecture and fascinating political history, you will soon discover why Leon is considered to be Nicaragua's historical, cultural, educational and religious capital. The best way to explore this captivating city is by foot, as much of its charm lies in the narrow colonial streets and architecture, art galleries, museums, restaurants and cafes. Leon's history is fascinating, like no other town in Central America. The town was dismantled, moved, and rebuilt due to volcanic activities, ransacked (and reconstructed!) by pirates, it won and lost its struggle as the most important city in Nicaragua against Managua, and several presidents were assassinated here. It is the place where famous poets are buried, where the largest cathedral in Central America stands, and is a hotbed for revolutionaries due to the big university located in Leon. In this guided walking tour we will visit revolutionary murals, baroque and neoclassical churches and a surprisingly interesting museum of legends, arts and poetry. During the tour we will also explore numerous colonial buildings, among them Nicaragua's first university. After the tour, you can climb to the rooftop of Central America's largest cathedral, recently added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites, and enjoy astonishing views over the city and the surrounding Maribios Volcanic Chain.