León is a land of volcanoes, hot weather and interesting cities. Here, visitors will find the ruins of one of the first Spanish colonial cities that were built in the continent, which are preserved thanks to the volcanic sand that buried the place after an eruption. The elegant city of León preserves its attractive historical center and colonial buildings. Also, there are many natural attractions as well as little known and remote rural areas.
Leon is one of the most important cities in the country. The center itself is an attractive destination due to its museums, art galleries, colorful colonial architecture, an imposing cathedral, and the facades of its churches. The city also has hotels, restaurants, local tour operators, bars and clubs. It is also a good starting point to explore the region.
This department has a coastline in Lake Managua (Lake Xolotlán) and also features two major attractions: the ruins of the first city of León and the Momotombo volcano, which caused the destruction of the city in 1610. Nowadays, this area is known as 'Leon Viejo' (old Leon), and still preserves some of the buildings of this ancient city. Momotombo, which its almost perfect cone, happens to be a challenge when it comes to climb it.
Leon has eight volcanoes, all of which are part of the 'Cordillera de Los Maribios'. The most interesting might be Cerro Negro, which is a young, small volcano that offers incredible views and slopes to practice snowboarding. Other sites are the volcanoes of Santa Clara, Momotombito (volcano/island) and the natural reserves of Pilas-El Hoyo and Telica-Rota. Also, there are two volcanic lagoons: Asososca and Monte Galan.
There are even more attractions in Leon, such as several beaches on the Pacific Ocean, which are spread throughout the municipalities of Nagarote and Leon. Both municipalities have beaches with infrastructure, while others remain in their natural state. El Velero, El Tránsito and Puerto Sandino (good waves for surfing and a nice estuary) are located in Nagarote. On the other hand, the municipality of Leon has the most famous ones: Poneloya and Las Peñitas. In front of the last one, tourists will find the Juan Venado Island Natural Reserve.
The department has 10 municipalities. All of them have their own attractions and characteristics. Besides what we have mentioned before, the small towns of La Paz Centro and Nagarote also have interesting sites, including the delicious, traditional 'quesillo', which is served in many establishments located on the 'Carretera Nueva a León' and in the urban centers. It is also worth to mention that the majority of Leon's municipalities are rural and tourism is yet to be developed.
Leon has one of the most impressive colonial cities in the country. Here, tourists will find hotels, restaurants, bars, tour operators, museums, cultural centers, several colonial churches and the largest cathedral in Central America. Leon also has a couple of famous beaches: Poneloya and Las Peñitas. The Juan Venado Island Natural Reserve is located close to the last beach, featuring abundant marine life and mangrove vegetation. The municipality is also famous for the festivities held in honor of Virgin Mary (December) and the colorful sawdust carpets than can be seen during Holy Week (Easter).
Located at the North end of the department of Leon, the municipality of San José de Achuapa is situated in a mountainous zone where visitors will find the last pines reserves of the area. This territory is occupied by 20 villages and an urban center. Its inhabitants celebrate their religious festivities in honor of San Sebastian (second week of February) and San José (March 19th).
El Jicaral is a rural municipality. Its inhabitants live from agriculture and livestock (on a smaller scale). A colonial church and a nice park are part of the attractions of the urban center, which celebrates its religious festivities in honor of the 'Señora de Las Mercedes'.
El Sauce, a municipality covered with hills and a range of mountains, is a good place for agriculture, livestock and apiculture. There are 16 villages and the capitol city of the same name, where tourists will find many workshops.
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Despite the fact that the most important attraction in La Paz Centro are the historical ruins of Leon Viejo, this municipality also has a national historical landmark, as well as many rivers, lagoons, thermal spots, a cultural center, a municipal library and the Momotombo Volcano. Its religious festivities are held in honor of San Nicolás de Tolentino.
The territory of the municipality of Larreynaga has one of the most impressive volcanoes in Nicaragua: the 'Cerro Negro'. Its inhabitants, which are organized in four urban communities and 59 rural ones, are mainly dedicated to agriculture.
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Famous for its quesillos (cheese, sour cream and onions rolled in a tortilla), Nagarote is the traditional stopover of people traveling to/returning from Leon and Chinandega. The municipality has an old church that was declared national historic landmark, a central park, several beaches (some of them with hotels and restaurants), a port, a viewpoint, and the fame of being one of the cleanest municipalities in the country. The traditional festivities of the place are celebrated from July 19th to 28th, in honor of Santiago Apostol.
The municipality of Quezalguaque, located 17 kilometers from the city of Leon, has a colonial urban organization. A central plaza, where the municipal government and and old church are located, is situated in the urban center. Its inhabitants are mainly dedicated to agriculture and celebrates religious festivities in honor of the 'Virgen de los Remedios', on February 18th.
Santa Rosa del Peñon is located on deposits of gold, lime and plaster. Its inhabitants are mainly dedicated to agriculture and mining. In addition to the religious celebrations in honor of Santa Rosa del Peñón de Lima (August 27th-30th), many theater groups represent the 'Judea' (Jesus' life and death) during Holy Week.
The municipality of Telica is, actually, the birthplace of Miguel Larreynaga, Nicaragua's independence national hero. There are several protected areas, two volcanoes, a river and a mountainous system that is also part of the 'Cordillera de Los Maribios'. Its urban center has old colonial houses that surround a nice central park with a colonial church. Telica's inhabitants are mainly dedicated to agriculture and livestock.
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