La Merced in Granada, Nicaragua. Image credit: Carlos Adampol
Nicaragua is home to wonderful, top-notch architectural gems. Well-known for its Spanish-influenced colonial era buildings, Nicaraguan cities like Leon and Granada are a must when visiting this beautiful country. Enjoy the best Nicaragua has to offer and take step back in time with our list of must-see buildings.
Basílica de la Asunción (The Cathedral of León)
The largest cathedral in Central America, Basílica de la Asunción was developed in 1762 by Guatemalan architect Diego José de Porres y Esquivel. The architectural design artfully blends Baroque, Neoclassical, Gothic, Renaissance and Mudejar influences–categorizing the cathedral under the Eclecticism style. For example, the towers are mainly Neoclassical but topped with Chinese domes, while the facade combines Baroque and Neoclassical styles.
The cathedral also houses magnificent works of art, such as El Cristo Negro de Pedrarias–possibly the oldest Catholic image in the Americas–and the elaborately crafted marble statue depicting the Inmaculada Concepción de María.
Basílica de la Asunción. Image credit: Javler Losa
Church of la Recolección
Developed around 1786 by Bishop Juan Félix de Villegas, the church’s ornate Mexican baroque façade is considered one of the best baroque examples in the city. With swirling columns, bas-relief medallions portraying the life of Christ, and dyed a deep yellow color, the Church of la Recolección is bound to catch your eye. The interior contains excellent baroque altarpieces, paintings, and silver engravings as well as a ceiling lavishly decorated with harvest motifs.
Church of la Recolección. Image credit: Micah MacAllen
Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral (also known as Cathedral of Granada)
The cathedral was originally built in 1583, destroyed in the 19th century, then rebuilt again in 1972. Located on the central plaza, the Cathedral of Granada is a bright yellow neoclassical church that takes up a total area of 3,614.87 meters squared. The inside of the church features extensive stained glass windows.
Cathedral of Granada. Image credit: Adalberto H. Vega
Built in 1534 and restored in 1862, La Merced is one of the oldest cathedrals in Central America. With a baroque facade carved into orange-yellow stone, La Merced is a fine example of Central American baroque. Let your eyes wander across the intricately carved columns and the building’s mesmerizing curves and angles as you listen to La Merced’s hand-rung bells every 15 minutes. The belltower of La Merced also offers a the best view of town.
Iglesia de La Merced in the rain. Image credit: jeffr_travel
Metropolitan Cathedral of Managua
While Granada and Leon are known for their Spanish-colonial architectural heritage, Managua puts a modern spin on things. Instead of restoring the Old Cathedral of Managua after it was destroyed by earthquakes, the city decided to built a whole new cathedral. Designed by LEGORRETA + LEGORRETA in 1991, Metropolitan Cathedral features 63 domes that provide natural light and ventilation sources on the inside, but create a surreal landscape when viewed from the outside. The modern style has caused some controversy, and locals colloquially call the cathedral ‘La Chichona’– slang for ‘the breasts.’
Metropolitan Cathedral of Managua
If you want to see these stunning architectural sites and more, book a tour with Pacaya Lodge & Spa.