Managua, the forgotten capital of Nicaragua

I’m standing on one of Managua’s highest hils, next to the black silhouette of Nicaragua’s national hero, Sandino. From the Loma de Tiscapa, I overlook the Lago de Managua and the Tiscapa lagoon, one of the only green spaces in an otherwise chaotic and busy city. The park is steeped in history. It was once the site of the Casa Presidencial, where Sandino was executed in 1934. For decades, the park was home to one of Nicaragua’s most notorious prisons.

The capital of Nicaragua isn’t on most people’s trail, but I figured since I’m here now, I might as well take some time to check out the best things to do in Managua.

Back downhill, I stumble upon the Avenida Central,  a pedestrian walkway with an interesting open-air exhibition on Nicaragua’s history. A part of it is dedicated to the big earthquake that happened in 1972. Part of the city never really recovered: on Plaza de Revolución, the crumbling façade and the belltowers of the old cathedral is all that is left of what was once one of the most stunning buildings of Managua. The interior is completely ruined and access has been forbidden ever since.

After it was decided that the lovely old cathedral would never be restored, they built a new one in 1991 in a different part of the city. Its architectural style created a lot of controversy. The 63 cupolas represent the 63 catholic churches of Nicaragua, but make the new cathedral look like a mosque rather than a cathedral. Some of the inhabitants go as far as comparing the cupolas to eggs or even breasts!

I end my walk along the seafront, where a huge amount of bars and restaurants serve mainly local clientèle.


The city won’t win any prices in a charm-contest, (head to Granada for that!)  but if you are interested in Nicaragua’s history and culture, you’ll see that there are plenty of things to do in Managua!

Have you been to Managua or Nicaragua? Looking forward to reading your impressions!

3 Replies to “Managua, the forgotten capital of Nicaragua”

  1. Claudia

    I love Nicaragua. It is my favourite country in Central America by far. I have been to Managua twice and I actually find it a surprisingly interesting city – perhaps the fact that it is by the lake is what I find most fascinating!

  2. melody

    I love all your articles on Nicaragua. I am hoping to get there this year and these will be helpful guides. Did you ever feel concerned for your safety while you were there?

    • Els Post author

      Thanks so much, Melody! I never felt unsafe in Nicaragua. Some hostels have papers up of areas to avoid after dark, so I respected that, but I never felt in any way restricted in my travels. I hope you’ll make it this year, it’s a wonderful country!


Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.