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Leon Viejo – World Heritage Site

Certainly Leon Viejo is a must visit in Nicaragua due to its rich historical past. Leon Viejo was founded by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba. The location was already settled by “Chorotegas” native indigenous groups. The Spanish conquistadores strategically founded the city of Leon Viejo by Lake Xolotlan.

In addition Leon Viejo was the first capital of Nicaragua; the city was established from 1524 to 1610. There were some important events that took place in the city; one of them was the execution of Francisco Hernandez de Cordobas by governor Pedro Arias de Avila who beheaded him at the “Plaza de Arma” with the idea to scare both the Spanish and Indigenous. In 1529 there was another event where 18 indigenous chiefs were also killed by Pedro Arias de Avila’s dogs which were trained to kill.

The governor died in 1531 and he was buried under the altar of “La Merced” church next to Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba. In 1549 Priest Antonio de Valdiviezo was brutally stubbed by the Governor Contreras’s sons who went into the church and murdered him.

Different events obliged the citizens to move to current Leon including lack of native labor force, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. First the earthquake destroyed the city and then the volcano buried the ruins in ash. It remained like this until 1967 when a group of archaeologist from the University of Leon discovered the ruins.

In 2000 the ruins of Leon Viejo were declared by UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today the site exhibits the ruins of the Cathedral, La Merced Church, the Monastery, City Hall, a Fort, and other important monuments.

Rural Life • Landscapes • Pre-Columbian Heritage

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