Things To Do In Managua
In 1821, when Spain finally left and granted full independence to Nicaragua, the newly empowered country chose to end the everlasting rivalry between then major capital cities Granada and Leon by naming Managua as the official and most influential capital city of Nicaragua. Civil war then divided the country for nearly a century. In 1912, troops from the United States became involved and stayed for 20 years. The military leader Anastasia Somoza gained control in 1936. His family ruled as dictators until 1979, when left wing rebels called the Sandinistas took over.
Groups known as the contras (which means against) disagreed with the Sandinistas over how the country should be run and fought them, supported by the United States. The Sandinistas were defeated in the 1990 elections and a new government finally ended the fighting. The people of Managua are mainly descended from Europeans and Native Americans. They work on small fruit farms or large coffee plantations. High quality coffee and cacao is grown in the central highlands of Managua. A typical scene in the countryside shows local workers turning coffee beans over with a rake to make sure they dry evenly in the hot sun.
When To Go:
The best time to visit the capital city is during the summer/dry season. This normally occurs from November until May. However, please remember that temperatures have a tendency to wind up is in amazingly hot in April and May. If you pursue your vacation or holiday plans, be sure to bring casual summer clothing and comfortable pair of walking shoes, and most of all keep yourself hydrated to avoid getting drenched in sweat and humidity as you go around parks or climb mountains.
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The wettest months are in the middle of June and winds up until the end of October when the downpour makes it harder to go on the numerous unpaved streets all throughout the city. Travel is often discouraged around these months because flights get cancelled at random notice because of dark clouds and heavy rains.
Here are the things to do when in the city of Managua, Nicaragua…
Laguna de Apoyo
It is a must to visit Laguna de Apoyo once you set your foot in Managua. The place is beautiful and it is impressive to remember that this lagoon used to be a volcanic crater that was filled with water for many centuries to become what it is today. You can walk around the lake to enjoy the scenery and the clear color of the water. Of course, good shoes are a must for such an experience if you do not want to have any foot injuries from the long walks of the trail. The water here is rather warm and slightly salty, there is hardly anyone and the view is beautiful! Perfect for swimming all afternoon or spending all day and have picnic with tour friends or family. The cheapest way to get there is to take a Collectivo Granada (local bus transport system) and alight at the small street leading to the lagoon, then take a taxi.
The crater lake is ideal for swimming and has very clean water because it is a protected area where no motor boats are permitted. In the surrounding forest you can hear the howler monkeys. The trail is somewhat difficult to find and the last stretch of road is in poor condition, but it is all worth it. Along the way you can see Ox-drawn carts that are frequently use because they cope well with the lake’s poor roads.
Puerto Salvador Allende
This site was undertaken as a project to revitalize the waterfront. And it was wonderful. The Puerto Salvador Allende is an inviting place for walks, a rest at the bars for a beer and maybe a tour of the boat by the Lake of Managua. This is one of the excellent recreation centers you can find when in Managua. This is one of the attractions that you should not let go when in Managua.
There are many options for dining (restaurants and bars within the popular price) and a beautiful view of Lake. There are also plenty of attractions for kids that can run and play under the watchful eyes of their parents. Take the opportunity to go at dusk, the sunset view and the red orange colors of the horizon covering the entire city is so dramatic.
Antigua Catedral de Managua
The Antigua Catedral de Managua is part of the history of Nicaragua to serve as a sad reminder of a natural disaster. The former Cathedral was destroyed by the earthquake in 1972 that also devastated the capital of Nicaragua. It is still standing with what's left, and still shows its splendor, its construction, and still retains its symbolic place at the Plaza.
It is now abandoned and no masses were ever held inside it since the natural tragedy because it was declared as unsafe and condemned and the pillars were shaken. There was no restoration project initiated to restore it to its old glory. Currently, it is in shambles and no public visitation is allowed. It is also secured by the military to protect the cathedral and warn the people that entrance even inside its courtyard is strictly prohibited.
Teatro Nacional Ruben Dario (Ruben Dario National Theater)
The Teatro Nacional Ruben Dario or the Ruben Dario National Theater is located between the Plaza de la Revolution and the Malecon. It was one of the few buildings that survived the earthquake of 1972. Despite having spent over forty years since its construction, its exterior is sleek with modern aesthetic. The acoustics are great and you can attend a classical music concert even in casual wear. The lobby and auditorium have a spacious setting in red and gold tones with its tiled marble floor and ornate balconies.
It is best to avoid the first four rows of the orchestra for its poor outlook. The bathrooms are nicely located. If you check the Internet, you can find the theater billboard and updated monthly activities but no ticket can be purchased online.
It is the only theater that exists in the city. It plays host to music, theater show, ballet, opera, etc. The facilities are nice and the quality of the stage performers is of international stature. Aside from the entertainment, you can also admire exclusive paintings, photographs, and sculptures proudly displayed along the halls and the lobby of the theater.
Loma de Tiscapa (Tiscapa National Historical Park)
The Loma de Tiscapa has a beautiful view of the city of Managua and the famous lakes. In addition to seeing a good landscape from this point the Tiscapa National Historical Park is a site that is best explored on foot. It holds the most impressive anecdotes about Nicaragua. This place once served as the official site for the Palazzo de la Presidencia or the official residence of the president for more than 40 years. The prison and dungeon areas are still kept intact. The brutal regime of the Somoza family is still clearly evident on its walls and dark corners. At the onset of the disastrous earthquake in 1972, this place and its encompassing ramparts were totally devastated. After the revolution that eradicated Somoza and his family, the historic site has been converted for the more essential tourism activity to promote Managua.
The huge monument of General Augusto C. Sandino, which can be seen from all key points of the city, seems to watch over Managua and its people. At present, the park is preserved and revered by the capital city as an important and symbolic cultural landmark. If you are able, you can take the trail to get on top and see the scope and the damage incurred by the huge fort. You can walk on top of the hill and see the ruins of the palace. A great conversational piece and the most photographed exhibit around here is the large military tank that was shipped by Benito Mussolini as a form of his good gesture to the regime of Somoza. From up here you can have a marvelous panorama of Managua. Visible from the observation platform is the sports arena, Lake Managua, shopping malls and the entire city. It is worthwhile to spend a few moments, learn its history, and take some pictures.
Catedral Metropolitana Inmaculada Concepcion de Maria
The Catedral Metropolitana Inmaculada Concepcion de Maria is a popular church in Managua because of its unique architecture and style. The Cathedral of Managua is located in a prime location of the city and its structure meets the most varied styles combining simplicity in large spaces. The major highlight of the church is its colorful domes where the artist painted the colored cement all throughout the building. The cost of construction was partly donated to the people of Nicaragua by a US philanthropist named Tom Monaghan and with the consolidated effort of its citizens. It is definitely a place to visit while in Managua.
National Palace of Culture
The National Palace of Culture in Nicaragua now a history museum that is a sober and modest evidence of the influence of Palladian architecture in Central America. It is set around a public square near the historical and ancient cathedral city Managua, the more French than Spanish architecture still majestically stands over time despite the damage it has suffered from the tragic 1972 earthquake.
It is also located opposite another old palace (House of Peoples) in Managua and close to the Ruben Dario National Theater. The whole place is surrounded by gardens and a lot of history can be seen on its environment.
Plaza de la Revolucion
The Plaza de la Revolucion is the most famous square of the city, located in the center of Managua that was destroyed by the earthquake of 1972. It is located near the end of Avenida Bolivar which has been improved and tidied up significantly in the last two years. This place was named after the remarkable triumph of the Sandinista Revolution, the celebration was held there on July 19, 1979. Nearby you can see the Nacional Ruben Dario Theater and visit the recreational complex of Puerto Salvador Allende.
In the Plaza, you can see three emblematic buildings, the National Palace of Culture (museum), the old Cathedral of Managua and the House of Peoples (Government Palace) is located, with two huge statues in front dedicated to Dario and Augusto Cesar Sandino. For better appreciation of this plaza it is best to explore it by day and at night when it gets lighted and cultural shows is performed at the center of the plaza.
Museo Sitio Huellas de Acahualinca
The Museo Sitio Huellas de Acahualinca is a neighborhood near Lake Managua. You can access the “6 thousand years old” footprints via urban transport (take the Bus Route 102). The operating hours are from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm (Monday to Friday) and from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (Saturday). It is closed on Sundays. The admission fee for foreigners costs US $4. The duration of the visit is about half an hour. A guided, educational and friendly visit is included in the ticket price.
The two excavations which contain very clear traces of people and animals whose estimated age is six thousand years old (4000 BC) are visited and the major highlight of this natural museum. It also has access to a small museum with archaeological remains found near the airport. The whole artifacts and collections are clearly presented and it is a must visit attraction when in Managua. It is a true anthropological gem worth visiting more than once. Taking pictures is allowed but please follow the no flash rule.
Mercado Roberto Huembes
The Mercado Roberto Huembes is a traditional market in the tourist area of Managua. The Huembes Market is one of the largest and busiest trading centers in the capital. Its hustle (and dirt) is increased because it also functions as a bus terminal as well as the main center for other markets in the city. It is well located and is easily accessible by taxi or a public bus.
The busy local market is safe to explore even at night. In this market you can easily find everything you need because it is divided into zones for each product: fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, books, shoes, clothes, appliances, hairdressers, dry and wet goods, dining areas, gift shops, and spices at low prices. One area of the market is dedicated to selling tourism products (donuts, clothing, crafts, postcards and other souvenirs). Some of the shops seem to have all the same things and the ride gets a bit repetitive. If you’re buying something you must learn how to haggle.
Broder is the best place to enjoy the nightlife in Managua. It is a great place to go with friends, meet new people, dance to all kinds of music, get to know the locals, and have the opportunity to choose any drink you want at a good price and all. In addition there is live music and entertainment that is sure to make your night in Managua a memorable one. With respect to security they make sure that it is well covered by their able staff. Once you enter the bar you get frisked for everything and it seems perfect so you can avoid getting into any trouble after a few drinks from the bar. This bar is excellent and much more fun starting from the atmosphere, the vibe, the music, the people, everything! The place is worth knowing and it shows the relationship between cost and great satisfaction because it meets all the expectations of its customers in compliance with the most stringent security measures, both for staff and its consumers.
Aside from its complicated political history, this capital also gained popularity for having regular instances of traffic accidents and an escalating crime rate. This is partly because the city has a mismanaged pedestrian and traffic system and no designated signs to keep the road safe for crossing pedestrians. In spite of that, it is wrong to say that Managua is a risky city that ought to be avoided no matter what.
There are risky places anywhere around the world, but in totality Managua is one of the most secure and stable cities of Central America. The news of being a chaotic city somehow got stuck with its name, but the truth is there are lots of treasured attractions to explore and things to do that will open the eye of any eager traveler and see a different side of Managua.
In fact at the Puerto Salvador Allende alone, there are shopping areas that can be found at the foot of the hills in the southern part of Lake Managua and is surrounded by construction site of new buildings, offices, and local businesses, and many multinational companies who are investing heavily now in Managua. Many tourist investments, mainly in the Pacific are starting, upgrading the environment by putting a greater emphasis on luxury tourism, with golf courses, riding stables, swimming pools by the sea, spa and health centers and with many restaurants serving international cuisine . These signs of progress are an excellent initiative for the Nicaraguans and a good way to help the economy.