The large white cross overlooking the city of Jinotega in the West side is one of the most renowned symbols of the municipality not only for the festivities that are held in its honor, but also because of the impressive views one gets after hiking the hill where this cross is situated.
Measuring about 800 meters high, the La Cruz Hill (original name is Chirinagua Hill) looks dominant from any point of the city. A 45-minute walk is necessary to get to the top and to be able to see Lake Apanas, the Dantali - El Diablo Natural Reserve, the city of Jinotega and the green mountains of Northern Nicaragua.
There are two versions regarding the name of the hill. One of them states that the priest Agustín Morel de Santa Cruz, who lived during colonial times in the area, put a cross on top of the hill because he believed this would stop torrential rains and floods from hitting the city.
On the other hand, the second version explains that the cross was placed there to protect Jinotegans from evil spirits attracted by people who practiced indigenous rituals in the Chirinagua Hill.
Whatever the reason, this white cross remains in its original place and is visited by thousands of catholics on May 3rd, which is when the "festivities of the cross" are held. Therefore, this is a good time to visit the place and see this kind of religious expression although tourists can visit the hill at any time of the year, except when it has rained.
It is worth mentioning that hiking this hill is not a formal tourist activity. Hence, the visitor should not expect to find guides offering a tour. The most practical thing is to ask at a hotel, city hall or at La Cuculmeca (local NGO) if they can contact a person who can take you there or give you advice related to this activity.
The most impressive views of the city of Jinotega, the Dantalí – El Diablo Natural Reserve, Lake Apanas and the green mountains of Nothern Nicaragua can be seen after a 45-minute hike on La Cruz Hill, one of the many attractions of the municipality of Jinotega.
The hill might seem like an intimidating challenge when seen from the center of the city, but hiking it is actually not that difficult. The road that leads to the top is not entirely steep and surrounds the hill, making it easier to hike.
The journey begins when one arrives in the cementery of the city, located in the Western side of it. Several viewpoints are reached as the hiker ascends, providing the opportunity to observe Jinotega's cathedral and other parts of the city.
After about 45 minutes (depending on the physical condition of the person), one gets to the top of the hill. The entire city of Jinotega and all its surroundings can be seen at this point and the views are impressive. However, the hike does not end there. The famous white cross located at the summit must also be part of the hike. Once you are there, you can sit on the cross, rest and finally enjoy the whole landscape.
An interesting fact is that La Cruz Hill is visited every May 3rd by hundreds of catholics who travel to the city of Jinotega in order to make this same journey. A mass takes place at the summit of the hill on this day.