Sultry Leon, Nicaragua in Photos

Leon, Nicaragua

Despite the heat, I kind of liked Leon. Everything was a little run down and a little dirty. Tattered not out of neglect but out of use. I spent the day hunkered down in a coffeeshop slurping iced coffee (Pan y Pan), hiding from the sun, and only ventured out in late afternoons.

Churches in Leon

León has more colonial churches per capita than any other place in Nicaragua. They all looked like they needed a good dose of power washing. But in a way, it added characters.

A yellow church in Leon, Nicaragua

a colorful church in Leon

Leon’s Central Park and Cathedral

Leon’s central park was my favorite part about Leon (see leading picture). It is one of the nicest I’d seen in Nicaragua, maybe even in Latin America. It’s large and leafy and surrounded by beautiful colonial buildings. It gets filled in the afternoons with families and college students – hanging out on the benches and snacking on quesillos and raspados (shaved ice drenched in syrup, so sweet the sugar rush lasts all day).There’s a bar/cafe right by the square. I’d sit there with a cold beer in the shadow of the cathedral and welcome the evening.

rooftop of Leon cathedral

Leon catheral, Nicaragua

I didn’t expect to like Leon. I heard it was hot and it was dirty. I heard right. It was hot, and compared to Granada, Nicaragua’s other famous colonial city, Leon does have that grimy, beat up, look.

But I felt like I stood out less in Leon. It’s a university town who minds its own business and it didn’t appear to try too hard to appeal to tourists. I like it that way.

MORE: Tips on Nicaragua, including a list of things to do in Leon

What’s the one town you’ve been to that defied your expectation?

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13 Replies to “Sultry Leon, Nicaragua in Photos”

  1. Love your pictures of Leon they're awesome! The town looks a little sleepy, but judging by the architecture it may be worth a visit for that alone.

  2. love your photos of the architecture – so beautiful and colorful. had no idea there were such grand churches in nicaragua. thanks for sharing!

  3. Great pictures of Leon, Jill! I can see why you ended up loving it. A city filled with beautiful old churches and colonial buildings, I can imagine myself feeling the same way like you did if I go to this city one day.

  4. I usually like places that other people don't like. I kind of like gritty and run-down places, as they have far more character in my opinion. So Leon looks like my kind of place!

  5. The magnificent architecture is shown off so well here. My favourite photo is the first, for the creative framing. To answer your question, the town I'd choose is Cusco. It's breathtakingly beautiful, both in the day and after dark. And the people are just so polite and friendly.

  6. A town that defied my expectation was Bologna. I had been warned about the pick pockets, the underground political Fascist groups and the ease of getting lost.
    I could see the pick pockets coming a mile away – he sat next to me on the steps of a church of all places and just stared at my purse which was wrapped around my body – creep. But we yelled "Basta" and he fled.
    The political Fascist group paints graffiti and really doesn't apply to me unless I am looking for a political debate but my Italian is a rusty at best.
    And getting lost was a delight and led to some of the most delicious culinary experiences of my life. Hurray for Bologna and Leon!

    Murissa

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