Nature and history. These are the elements that prevail in Granada, a small yet interesting department of Nicaragua's Pacific area. An extinct volcano, elongated coasts on Lake Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua), an archipelago and the oldest city in the country, which still preserves original historic colonial center, are some of the attractions.
The city of Granada is one of the most important and most visited destinations in Nicaragua. The colonial architecture of its old center, many museums, galleries, hotels, restaurants, bars and a cosmopolitan ambiance make this city a destination itself. However, it also be could be a good starting point to explore the region.
The Mombacho Volcano, which features an exotic cloud forest, is situated in this department. Some water sports can be practiced around the shores the department has on Lake Nicaragua, which asre also ideal for a good swim. The interesting and easily accessible archipelago of 'Las Isletas', constituted by more than 300 small islets, is also located here. Furthermore, the enigmatic Zapatera Archipelago - which preserves part of its forest and an archaeological pre-Columbian treasure, is situated on the lake.
Other interesting sites are the peasant farms that offer rural tourism activities, such as those located in the city of Nandaime, Diriá and Diriomo. The last two cities are also part of the 'Bewitched Villages', together with other cities of Masaya. The Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve covers some of the territory of this department.
Granada is 1,039.68 Km². Its population is divided almost evenly between the urban and rural areas (65.2% urban). The department has a tropical savanna weather, with very warm temperatures in most of its areas, except for the 'Meseta de Los Pueblos'. Granada only has four municipalities, which makes it the only department with the least quantity of those in the country.
The municipality of Granada is home to the oldest colonial city established on mainland. Its territory includes lagoons, an archipelago, natural reserves, the Mombacho Volcano and an elongates shoreline in Lake Nicaragua. Its rural area, which is constituted by 17 villages and the Zapatera Island, is known for ecotourism and petroglyphs. Its religious festivities are held in honor of the 'Virgen de la Asunción', from August 14th to 20th.
This small municipality is located at the summit, slopes and surroundings of the Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve. Its urban center, which is enclosed by nine villafes, has antique houses, an old church, a central park and a nice viewpoint with a panoramic scenery of the Apoyo Lagoon. San Sebastian is the patron saint of the municipality, which celebrates its religious festivities in his honor from January 19th to 21st.
Located on a plateau near the Mombacho Volcano, Diriomo is part of the "Bewitched Villages". The religious fervor of its inhabitants changes the calm ambiance of the urban center and 25 rural communities. These festivities are held each February 2nd in honor of the 'Virgen de La Candelaria', with traditional dances, processions and sweets.
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The agro-industrial municipality of Nandaime is the second most important of the department of Granada. With a coastline in Lake Cocibolca and close to three natural reserves, Nandaime also has pre-Columbian ceramic stones in its rural areas. Also, the urban center has small stadiums and a municipal library. The traditional festivities are held on July 26th in honor of Santa Ana.
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