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The historical center of Leon will be restored

Cinthia Membreño | Aug 15, 2011

Governmental and religious authorities sign an agreement.

The project aims to recreate the colonial style that the city had when it was founded.

Half a million dollars will be invested in order to renovate the surroundings of the Leon Cathedral, which was declared a World Heritage by UNESCO on June 28th. The project is also part of a plan that involves the rehabilitation of the historical center of the city and includes the installation of urban decorations and the maintenance of the streets that surround the cathedral. This renovation will aim to recreate the colonial design that the city had when it was founded.

During a press conference given on Friday, August 12th, Mario Salinas, President of the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism (INTUR), signed an agreement with Manuel Calderon, governor of the city, and Bosco Vivas, Bishop of the Diocese of León and Chinandega. The US$250 thousand dollar agreement will be used to buy building materials, pay workers and rent the machinery that will be necessary to develop the first phase of the renovations. Authorities said that the job will have to be finished by December 7, which is when Leon celebrates La Gritería, held in honor of the Virgin Mary.

According to Salinas, the restoration of the historical center will increase tourism in the area. "Tourism growth is evident in the region. In 2006, Leon had over 20 thousand visitors. Five years later, this number has increased to 65 thousand. After UNESCO's declaration, the city receives an average of 250 daily visitors," he stated.

Governmental authorities also explained that the second phase of the project will begin right after the previous phase is concluded. Thirteen acres, which constitute the historical center of Leon, will be restored, including the La Merced Church, La Recoleccion Church and the San Ramon Seminar. Furthermore, all the sidewalks and facades of several buildings will be homogenized.

Another aspect that will be negotiated is the relocation of the vendors that are currently selling their products illegally on the streets that surround the Leon Cathedral. According to Salinas, the goal is to give them better selling conditions and accomplish a better organization of the city. The total amount that will be invested is US$5.5 million dollars. UNESCO's representatives will make a first evaluation of the project after three years.