La Gran Sultana – the great sultana – as the city on the western shore of Lake Nicaragua is also called, looks back on a long history.
Along with León, Granada is considered to be the most beautiful colonial city in Central America and enjoys corresponding popularity with tourists from all countries. It was founded in 1524 by the Spanish conqueror Hernández de Córdoba and developed into an important port from where goods were shipped via Lake Nicaragua and the Río San Juan to the Caribbean coast and finally to Europe. The former prosperity is still reflected today in the colonial architecture, which – partly carefully restored – characterises Granada’s historic centre. One of its most important sights is the city: The cathedral was first built in 1529 and its current form dates back to 1880. The church La Merced, with its baroque façade from the second half of the 18th century, owes its name to the market it once dominated. The San Francisco Monastery is now Granada’s most important museum, with an important collection of pre-Columbian statues and other testimonies to indigenous traditions. The Casa de los Tres Mundos lives up to its name as ‘House of the Three Worlds’: the colonial building was developed into an international cultural centre by the foundation of the same name, with the commitment of Ernesto Cardenal and Dietmar Schönherr among others. Concerts, workshops and exhibitions take place on a regular basis in its rooms and in the inner courtyard. Granada’s City Archive is also housed here. As in all Latin American cities, the Parque Central is also the centre of public life. Not only the most important buildings are grouped around it, but also numerous pubs and cafés.
Granada’s geographical location also makes the city a good starting point for day trips to nearby destinations. One of the most popular attractions for locals and tourists is the Las Isletas archipelago, which is located off the shore of the lake. They invite to romantic boat trips in the midst of tropical vegetation. Within a radius of less than 50 km you can visit the active Masaya Volcano, the town of the same name with its famous handicraft market, the almost circular Apoyo Lagoon and last but not least the Mombacho Volcano with its cloud forests. The choice between these destinations should depend not only on your personal interest but also on the weather. Thus, one can drive with a normal car to the crater edge of the Masaya volcano, while the access roads to the Mombacho National Park are only accessible with four-wheel drive, especially during the rainy season.