There’s one sightseeing attraction the streets of Leon have no shortage of and that is centuries old colonial churches. Simply wander down the sultry streets near the city’s center and you’re bound to run into one. I love old architecture and historical sites, probably because there are so few where I’m from. Leon is home to more colonial churches per capita than any in Nicaragua with more than a dozen notable ones. Want to see the 5 neatest in the city? Keep reading!
1. The León Cathedral
Basilica Cathedral of the Assumption – Built in 1814 this 200-year old cathedral is the largest in all of Central America and a World Heritage site. Having survived earthquakes, volcano eruptions and a civil war its age and history are on proud display located in the heart of the Leon. This a great starting point for touring the city, exploring local foods or checking out the nearby street shopping markets.
2. Church of La Recoleccion
Iglesia La Recoleccion – Covered in a dark and well-worn yellow facade La Recoleccion’s exterior makes it the most beautiful in the city. Built in 1786 it’s also been restored, thanks in part due to Spanish & Italian funding.
3. Church of El Calvario
Iglesia El Calvario – Located 5 minutes walk down central street from the Leon Cathedral. El Cavario is perched above the street and has a flamboyant exterior that demands attention from a distance. The bright yellow facade between the red brick bell towers feature painting of biblical scenes.
4. Church of San Felipe
Iglesia de San Felipe – This one dates back to 1685, occupying a large block. Appears to have been for lower-class worshipers.
5. Church of San Francisco
Iglesia de San Francisco – Located just a few blocks West of the Leon Cathedral. Constructed in 1639 by Friar Pedro de Zúñiga (along with the convent converted into a hotel) with a Leonese colonial style it is one of the city’s oldest. It’s not as vibrant as some of the others but still worth checking out.
While these 5 get my pick for the list, if you’re undetermined by the heat there’s even more churches to check out!
- Church of la Merced
- Church of Subtiava
- Church of Guadalupe
- Church of Zaragoza
- Chapel of la Asunción
- Ask for a map – if you can’t use one online like this one ask for one to carry around at your hotel/hostel or at a tourist stand near the central plaza.
- Due to lots of low-hanging wires, narrow streets and large structures if you plan on taking lots of photographs, bring a camera capable of wide-angle shooting.
PS. I love how you described the streets as sultry hahaha 😀
What a great list. I definitely want to explore Church of La Recoleccion. Looks so historical and interesting to me!
Interesting – I just got back from Mexico where all the churches look pristine inside and out. The ones above all look dirty and faded as I guess they would look without the money for regular upkeep (which I assume they can’t afford in Nicaragua). They look their age but maybe that’s a good thing!
Nice photos – My favorite was the view from the top of the León Cathedral!