1. The cathedral
The oldest European-founded city in the Americas is just over the border with Nicaragua. This city of around 100,000 is the epicenter for our northern neighbor’s tourism industry, and with good reason. With stunning architecture all around, Granada is perfect for strolling. The centerpiece is the cathedral, on the Parque Central. The city’s destinations radiate from this iconic edifice.
2. The central market
El Mercado Municipal, a few blocks south of the central plaza, is a choc-a-bloc labyrinth that crawls with activity and offers a great glimpse of day-to-day life in Granada. The market’s wares are geared towards residents and not tourists, but it’s still worthwhile to take a stroll around the surrounding blocks to get a better idea of how most Nicaraguans do their shopping.
3. La Calzada
Granada’s Main Street, La Calzada extends east from the cathedral towards the lake. You’ll find a wide range of bars and restaurants along this cobblestone pedestrian mall, and the ample outdoor seating makes this a great place to do some people watching.
4. Mi Museo
This free museum houses thousands of pre-Columbian artifacts from around Nicaragua. The funeral urns, pictured above, range from hundreds to over a thousand years old and represent the womb. Remains were buried in these urns with the idea that the womb would help the deceased reach a new life.
5. The architecture
Everywhere you turn, there are excellent examples of Spanish colonial and neocolonial architecture. Much of the city has been restored, but there are still arcades like the one above that remind visitors of what most of Granada looked like a couple of decades ago, before the tourism boom.
A signature feature of Granada’s Moorish architecture are the leafy, cool internal patios that most homes have. Hotels and restaurants have transformed them into veritable oases. This dog retreats to the cool dirt in the patio in the background when it gets too hot in the doorway.
7. The people
Perhaps the most interesting part of Granada is its people. Take the time to stop and chat with the local denizens. Chances are you’ll garner a deeper appreciation for Nicaragua if you do.
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