Thirdeyemom

The Color of Granada

Granada is a magical place. As the oldest city in North America, founded in 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba (a Spanish conquistador), Granada’s charm has been attracting people from all over the world for decades. Her captivating colonial architecture, whimsical colorful streets, and gorgeous culture is enough to make you want to plant yourself at one of many outdoor cafes on the main plaza and watch the world go by for days.

Unfortunately I only had 24 hours in this lovely colonial treasure but I made sure to cram in as much as possible. I spent the morning on foot touring the four main colonial churches and rambunctious streets, ate wonderful meals at Granada’s delightful outdoor restaurants, took an evening sunset tour of Las Islets, and the next morning climbed neighboring volcano Mombacho. It was an awful lot of rushing around in a short amount of time but I’m glad I did it because Granada is amazingly delightful. It is also a photographer’s dream!

Come take a walk with me and see for yourself.

Granada, Nicaragua

The perch at Hotel Plaza Colon is a fantastic place to have a cup of Nicaraguan coffee and watch the world go by.

The first thing I did when I arrived in Granada was check into my lovely hotel, The Hotel Plaza Colon. It was the perfect place to base myself for my visit to Granada, centrally located right on the main plaza with a gorgeous front patio and private balconies offering a spectacular view of the plaza and main cathedral. The staff was warm, friendly and helpful and I specifically enjoyed the delicious cafe shop and wine bar with outdoor seating.

Once I figured out my game plan for the day, I set off on foot in the hot, tropical weather common almost year-round in Nicaragua. I had a guidebook but honestly never read it as I prefer to discover a new place similar to opening up the first page of a new book. I like to slowly unravel it with no preconceived notions and read about it after I’ve seen it.

I left the hotel with only a map and some basic instructions by the concierge on where to go and what to see. Given the relatively small, compact size of Granada, it was very easy to find my way around and see everything over the course of 3-4 hours. There were also plenty of tourists so I never felt uneasy being alone.

My first mission was to visit the main churches of Granada which warrants an entirely separate post (that is coming soon). From the top of the bell tower at the Iglesia La Merced, I got a stunning 360-view of the city. It was the perfect vista to begin my tour of Granada.

Granada, Nicaragua

The best view in Granada can be found from the bell tower at the Iglesia La Merced

Granada, Nicaragua

View of the main plaza

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

Despite it being the dry season and a five-year devastating drought in Nicaragua, I was surprised by how green it was in Granada. It was much more verdant than the coast of San Juan del Sur which was shockingly brown and barren. The greenery juxtaposed with the intense, colorful hues of the buildings brought this city to life. I could hardly contain my joy at photographing all the brilliantly painted buildings and homes.

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, NicaraguaGranada, NicaraguaGranada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua
Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

Just like Antigua, Guatemala, another beautiful colonial city I’ve visited, I adored the terra cotta roofs, the various stages of decaying and chipping paint, and the antique light fixtures. Like most Central American countries, it was impossible to avoid the pell mell of electrical wires in my pictures. But in a sense, that adds to the feel of the place as that is Central America.

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, NicaraguaGranada, Nicaragua

Granada, NicaraguaGranada, Nicaragua

I loved watching and photographing every day life in Granada. As the tourists hummed by speaking English, French and other European languages, the Nicaraguans went about their daily life shopping, going to school, and taking their siesta at noon. As soon as it hit lunch time, the once lively city became a ghost town with shuttered windows and doors and not a soul on the street except me.

After a couple of hours walking in the intense afternoon heat (it had to reach at least 95 degrees Fahrenheit) it became apparent why the siesta is needed. I almost collapsed in exhaustion but at least I got these beautiful pictures. But maybe they would have been better if there were some people in them.

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

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Granada, Nicaragua

By there o’clock I had enough of the heat, so I went back to the hotel and dove into the cool waters of the pool. I would have loved to have stayed there all day long relaxing but time was ticking. I had much more to see of Granada before the sun set. I took a quick shower, and was off again photographing the afternoon light and life of the city as it began to reawaken.

Granada, Nicaragua

Volcano Mombacho is looming in the background

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, NicaraguaGranada, NicaraguaGranada, NicaraguaGranada, NicaraguaGranada, NicaraguaGranada, NicaraguaGranada, NicaraguaGranada, NicaraguaGranada, NicaraguaGranada, NicaraguaGranada, NicaraguaGranada, NicaraguaGranada, NicaraguaGranada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

Exhilarated by my fantastic day in Granada, I finished it off by eating dinner at El Tercer Ojo.  I laughed in surprise when I realized the translation of the restaurant is “the third eye”. How fitting for me? It was a wonderful day in Granada and if I go back to Nicaragua, I will be sure to use Granada as my base since there is so much to do around there and it is a wonderful place.

If you go:

Granada is located only about an hour’s drive from Managua and is the perfect place to base yourself for exploring the area. I hired a private driver from my hotel in Managua who brought me directly to my hotel in Granada for $50. I stayed at the Hotel Plaza Colon which I would highly recommend. It is beautiful, reasonably priced, and in a perfect, central location. The fantastic concierge, Victor, set me up with all my tours and was extremely helpful.

 

50 comments

    • Thanks Jo! Yes it was just gorgeous in Granada. All the bright colors seemed to jump off the walls of the buildings and enliven me! Now its back to barren and brown and gray. Oh well.

  1. Some great memories here for me! I can’t believe I was only there a few months ago – it feels like years after what I’ve been through since then! It was such a great little town to spend my week in – glad you enjoyed your day there!

    • I bet it feels like a very long time Lexi given your crazy life. I just loved Granada. I was going to stay at the hotel you recommended but this one turned out wonderful. I loved the front patio where I could sit and watch the world go by. It was so much fun! The restaurants there are great too.

  2. The empty streets at mid-day are remarkable! How sensible to simply go indoors and chill instead of trying to continue a busy life relying on an air-conditioned car or office or home! I wish more of us could adopt that schedule.

    • Yes, isn’t it unbelievable that a city could go from bustling to a ghost town within an hour! I was so caught up taking photos that I didn’t notice the shuttering and closing of doors and when I did it was such a shock. Yes a great way to take a break during the hot hours of the day.

  3. Vix

    I’m going to be in Granada in a couple of weeks time as part of a three week backpacking trip….seeing your beautiful pictures has just made me even more excited (didn’t think that was possible!)

    • Wow you are going to love it! I’m sure you already have it planned out but don’t miss (I did but want to do this next time) Ometepe Island, and if time Big Corn Island is supposed to be amazing and tuning in Somoto Canyon. I saw pics of this on my flight back and it was so stunning! Also read my friends blog Rewind and Retired in Nicaragua as she and her husband have lived on Ometepe for ten years! Will you blog about your trip?

      • Vix

        Thanks for the tips..I am going to Ometepe Island so even more excited about that now. I will check out that blog too. I will be blogging throughout the trip 🙂

  4. I really enjoyed your colorful and lively photos of Granada. Many years ago when I was living in Costa Rica, I used to go to Granada for the weekend every 90 days (had to leave CR because of the tourist visa), and seeing these photos brought back good memories. Unfortunately that was before digital cameras, so my photos are limited, but this inspires me to dig out those photo albums when I return to Alaska. Thanks!

    • That must have been wonderful Marilyn living in Costa Rica and being able to spend time in Granada! You are so lucky to be able to have the best of both worlds…beautiful Alaska in the summer and Mexico or down south in the winter! Glad I brought back some memories! I know what you mean about digital film. I lived abroad twice in 1993 and 1994 and have hardly any photos! I wish so bad we had digital cameras back then!

  5. When I visited Granada some years ago I had even less time than you (we were heading almost straight to the Pacific coast). But it was really a splendid city, as you photos so vividly show here. As always you have captured the soul and the beauty of the place. 🙂

  6. Gosh Nicole, your stunning and colorful photos of Granada look straight out of a fairy tale picture book. Looks like a wonderful place and you captured its essence beautifully. And I love the name of the restaurant. How apt. You were obviously meant to be there! Wonderful post Nicole.

  7. I visited Granada recently, and I love reliving it with your photos! Thank you. I hope you get the chance to visit more of Nica. I couldn’t get enough. I planned to go for 3 weeks and stayed for 3 months!

    • Thanks for sharing! I can only imagine who wonderful three months would have been! It is a special place and I would have loved to have seen more.

    • True!! It was “founded” meaning taken over by a Spanish conquistador who like in most of the Americas took over and wiped out the indigenous populations. So yes it is much much older however the Spanish takeover and colonial architecture of Granada came in 1524. 😊

    • Ps thanks for the reminder! Normally I always discuss the negative tragic impact of what colonialism did to the world but sometimes I feel like a broken record.

    • There was actually not a town called Granada until 1524. Before colonialism, a Caribbean coastal population of people inhabited the shores near Granada but the city was not built until 1524. There was a battle between the indigenous and the colonial invaders but like in most cases, the conquistadores won and took over.

  8. This was so great for me to read and see having lived in Granada for six years these were my stomping grounds! You did a lovely job of capturing the colors and architecture of what was our home base for many years. Brought back good memories. Yup, beware the heat and humidity especially middle of the day ~ hence no people out and about. Locals are up with the sun to do their chores and housework before the midday heat hits.

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