City of Masaya
Excursions to the historic and picturesque capital city of Masaya (1/2 to 1 day)
What to see
Masaya, only 15 kilometers from the San Simian Lodge, is famous for its national folklore festivals with music, dance and traditional native arts. Just a street away from the main plaza is the old Crafts Market: This consists of a square-shaped enclosure surrounded by high walls in which many small shops offer their wares. Here you will find everything from ceramics, furniture and colorful hammocks to artworks and hand-made jewelry. Of course, cigars, rum and coffee are also available. Every Thursday evening there is an open-air concert in the inner courtyard of the market where live bands and folkloric groups perform in traditional costumes. And the pleasant aromas filling the air will whet your appetite for one of the traditional Nicaraguan dishes. The concert is free-of-charge.
Nearby is the historical center of the city with its colonial charm. Many beautifully preserved house façades go back to the times of the Spanish conquerors. Two large churches located near the main plaza are worth a visit and the plaza itself is inviting with its high trees and numerous restaurants. Before or after, a stroll on the promenade along the Masaya Lagoon is also a must.
Another interesting site is Monimbo, a section of Masaya. This is one of the few places in Nicaragua where some of the Indian culture has been preserved. The pre-Hispanic heritage is carried on through foods, dances, art, handicrafts and religious ceremonies. Here you will find many small businesses that produce the wares for the Crafts Market. Almost every house has its own workshop where, for instance, baskets, furniture and hammocks are created out of wood, bamboo, palm, leather or sugar cane. The locals are very tourist-friendly.
Only a few kilometers from the city is the ancient Coyotepe Fortress. This was built in 1893 to protect the railroad connection between Granada and Corinto. Dictator Somoza (1925 – 1980) converted the Fortress first into a military garrison then into a prison. For many years it housed mostly political prisoners. After the Sandinista Revolution in 1979, around 800 inmates were released but the fort continued to serve as a prison until 1983. Subsequently the Nicaraguan government passed it over to the children’s organization “Asociacion de Ninos Sandinistas (ANS). Today the site is maintained by the Nicaraguan Boy Scouts Association and has become a popular outing destination. From here one has a splendid panorama over the Lake of Nicaragua, City of Masaya, Masaya Volcano National Park, Mombacho Volcano, Lake of Managua, Momotomobo Volcano and the Tisma Heights.
The little village Nindiri with its fascinating history is also well worth a stop. We visit the picturesque village plaza, a 400-year-old church and the small Tenderi Museum whose collection of archaeological finds brings the past back to life.
We offer transport to and from Masaya