Granada is one of those showcase cities whose eternal beauty lies deep within her Spanish colonial roots. Founded in 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, much of the city remains the same as it was hundreds of years ago when the Spanish landed in Granada and conquered the people and their land. Despite being ransacked, destroyed and burnt to the ground, Granada has remained shockingly intact with its glorious cobblestone streets, opulent Catholic churches and vibrantly colored architecture, making it one of the most beautiful cities in Central America.
Catholicism arrived in Nicaragua in the late 16th century during the Spanish conquest of Latin America. To build their empire, the Spanish constructed grand, elaborate cathedrals throughout the region and Granada received her fair share of beautiful churches. Today roughly 90% of Nicaraguans practice some form of Christian denomination with the majority being Roman Catholics.
The sound of church bells is a constant reminder that you are in a Catholic country where religion still plays an integral role in people’s lives.
There are five main churches that grace Granada’s picturesque streets: The Iglesia la Merced, the Cathedral on Parque Colón, The Iglesia de Xalteva, the Igelesia Guadalupe and the Antiguo Convento San Francisco. All are worth checking out as they are equally beautiful in their own right.
Iglesia la Merced
Built in 1534 (sacked and burned and rebuilt again in 1670), the views from the bell tower are the most spectacular in the entire city. High on top, you are rewarded with a 360 degree view of Granada’s terra-cotta rooftops, the stunning lake and the volcano.
Climbing the narrow stairs, you reach the centerpiece of the church: The bell tower. The panoramic views from high above the busy streets of Granada, are sensational and perhaps my favorite view in all Granada.
I could have stayed her all afternoon watching the world go by on the streets below but alas I had four more churches to see and it was getting hot.
Looking back at the church
Looking down to the ground
Looking down at the streets
Here is a beautiful view of the Cathedral on the central plaza, the heart and soul of Granada. You can also see the lake, Lago Cocibolca and Las Isletas where I would go for a sunset cruise later on that day.