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Granada, Nicaragua - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Updated on November 6, 2016
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John's traveled since the 70's. Europe, Africa and is now in Central America. He shares his experiences and unusual places he visits.

Granada Skyline

 Looking at the main square from the bell towers of Inglesia La Merced, Granada, Nicaragua
Looking at the main square from the bell towers of Inglesia La Merced, Granada, Nicaragua | Source

Granada, Nicaragua UNESCO World Heritage Site

In 2003, Granada, Nicaragua was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (You can read about that distinction here.)

With its architecture, history and charm, Granada, Nicaragua bask's in it's history and allurement.

Depending on what you read, Granada, Nicaragua is either the oldest city in the Americas, or the oldest city in Central America. The "oldest city in the Americas" comes from the distinction of Granada being registered in the official records of the Crown of Aragon, and the Kingdom of Castile in Spain. (You can read about the history of Granada, Nicaragua here)

If you take that away, there were other cities in the Americas that were settled earlier than Granada, Nicaragua. But, we're splitting hairs here. Granada was founded in 1524, so it's a city that's close to 500 years old.

Due to it's architecture and old churches, it's one of the main tourist attractions in Nicaragua.

The town has 5 major churches:

1) The Cathedral of Granada is the main church, by the town's central park.

2) Guadalupe Church is on the way from the town square to Lake Nicaragua. It's located on Calle la Calzada.

3) San Francisco Convent. The church is located 3 blocks from Calle la Calzada heading east. It's right across the street from the best place to have breakfast, Kathy's Waffle House!

4) Iglesia La Merced This is north of the town square, and easy walk that gives you a nice feel for the city.

5) Iglesia de Xalteva

These 5 churches are the main tourist attractions of Granada, Nicaragua.

San Francisco Convent, Granada, Nicaragua

The San Francisco Convent , Grananda, Nicaragua
The San Francisco Convent , Grananda, Nicaragua | Source

Inglesia La Merced Church, Nicaragua

Iglesia La Merced, Granada, Nicaragua
Iglesia La Merced, Granada, Nicaragua | Source

Iglesia de Xalteva, Granada, Nicaragua

Iglesia de Xalteva, Granada, Nicaragua
Iglesia de Xalteva, Granada, Nicaragua | Source

San Francisco Church, western side of Granada, Nicaragua

San Francisco Church, western side of Granada, Nicaragua (There are two churches with San Francisco as a name)
San Francisco Church, western side of Granada, Nicaragua (There are two churches with San Francisco as a name) | Source

Guadalupe Church, Granada, Nicaragua

Guadalupe Church, Granada, Nicaragua
Guadalupe Church, Granada, Nicaragua | Source

Tourist Avenue

Off the town square, heading east to Lake Nicaragua, is what I call "Tourist Avenue". In reality, the name of the street is Calle La Calzada - it's where most the tourist restaurants and bars are. On a Friday or Saturday night, the place is packed with foreigners and Nicaraguan's paying Granda, Nicaragua a visit.

Bars, restaurants, hookers, street vendors and beggars all make up the "charm" of the area. Irish pubs, local Nicaraguan food and great ice cream. Fish, steaks and all sorts of other foods are available along this "Tourist Avenue" and the side streets that feed into this "sidewalk" of a main street that goes all the way down to Lago Nicaragua, the largest freshwater lake in Nicaragua..

If you head wast, it takes you to the town square and The Cathedral of Granada.


Calle La Calzada, Granada

Calle La Calzada, Granada, Nicaragua
Calle La Calzada, Granada, Nicaragua | Source

The Town Square, Granada, Nicaragua

The Town Square, Granada, Nicaragua
The Town Square, Granada, Nicaragua | Source

Getting around Granada, Nicaragua

As you can see in the picture, horse drawn carriages are available for hire. These carriages will take you to all the tourist sites - all the churches, there's an old fort, and they will even take you down to Lake Nicaragua.

In the town square you can eat - there's 3 restaurants in the park, serving local Nicaraguan food.

On the north side of the park, there are vendors selling pottery, hammocks, shirts, and lot's of other local, handcrafted items.

The steeples you see in the right of the photograph are from the Church of Granada, one of the main churches in the city. The street that runs along the side of the church is Calle la Calzada. This a closed off street with variety of restaurants along with others, that are located on the side streets. This street will also take you to Lake Nicaragua, the park and nightclubs along the shore.

Taxi cabs are readily available and, by any standards, very inexpensive.

A five star hotel, Hotel Plaza Colon, is located right next to the park. After 7PM, it's a very quiet area, as most of the activity happens further east of the park on Calle De Calzada.

The old Granada Fort, Granada, Nicaragua

The old Granada Fort, Granada, Nicaragua
The old Granada Fort, Granada, Nicaragua | Source

Tours and information

The old Granada Fort is open for tours daily. Most of the carriage drivers have been working the tourist routs for so long, they know the history of each church, the area around the churches, and can give you a good description of the Granada Fort.

One of the reasons the Granada Fort established was to fend of an American by the name of William Walker. He'd arrived in Nicaragua to spread the use of slaves in Central America. It was one of the few times Central Central Americans banded together drive out an invading force. Walker was defeated about 40 miles south of Granada, in Rivas, Nicaragua.

There are also tour guides that you can hire, who would probably give you a bit more information about each particular tourist attraction. Take the time to visit lake Nicaragua, it's the largest lake in Central America.

It's also home to Ometepe, a very popular tourist destination it it's own right. (You can read about The Isle of Ometepe here)


Old hospital of Granada, Nicaragua

Old hospital of Granada, Nicaragua
Old hospital of Granada, Nicaragua | Source

Old hospital of Granada, Nicaragua

One of the places that you'll visit on any tour is the old hospital on the western part of the city.

Do take the time to get out and walk the area, it covers a full city block.

If the weather is cooperative, there are great angles and photo shots that can be had at the old hospital.

Another, maybe a bit odd, place to visit is the Fundacion Corpus Christi. They work with the locals, have scholarships for students who agree, after they graduate, to work for the foundation, for free, for two years.

They're restoring a building called Palacio de Acoyapa, a two story wood/concrete structure. An interesting building and challenging restoration project that I found interesting.


Palacio de Acoyapa, Granada, Nicaragua

Palacio de Acoyapa, Granada, Nicaragua
Palacio de Acoyapa, Granada, Nicaragua | Source

I hope you enjoyed the tour of Granada, Nicaragua

I hope you enjoyed the photos and the information about Granada, Nicaragua.

There's a reason for it being a UNESCO World Heritage Site - it's a marvelous city, with churches, good international community and many things to do within the area.

For a special treat, at the end of this is a video of a birds eye view of Granada, Nicaragua for the bell towers of Iglesia La Merced Church.

I'm thin, and it was a tight fit getting up the bell tower!

Travel safely and play nice!

A view of Granada, Nicaragua from the bell tower of the Iglesia La Merced

Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Central America. Buying their products helps the Nicaraguan people

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