Colonial architecture in the town square
February 15, 2014
We finally make it to Granada! It’s already starting to feel HOT. Maybe a visit a month or two earlier would have been better. Oh, well.
Granada’s a quaint city with Spanish influences and is sister city to Guatemala’s La Antigua. It’s said to be the first European settlement in mainland America. If the claim that it’s registered in the official records of the Crown of Aragon and the Kingdom of Castile in Spain is true, that, indeed, bespeaks of royal acknowledgement of an exceptional lineage! Granada may have been spared major damage from the Sandinistas in the 1970s – 1980s, but an earlier history of battles and invasions from other countries, a long-running, often violent feud in the mid 1800s with neighboring city, Leon, and other issues have taken their toll.
Although Granada (named after the ancient Spanish city) is not quite as well-maintained as its “sister”, the past decades have seen an attempt to revitalize the city and save its ancient colonial architecture. Judging by the variety of indoor shops and decent eateries here, the city is becoming a more desirable tourist destination.
We stop in the “calle peatonal”, pedestrians only street, to sip a beverage, watch people go by and browse the vendor tables.
An artist adjusts a link before selling Gerda his hand-twisted silver necklace
Using just a reed and a snip from small scissors, this boy creates a heart with arrow through it. At any age, artists work hard to make a living in Central America.
We explore farther and discover the Iglesia de San Francisco. Firefighters from Italy walk by, but Gerda’s too shy to approach them and see if they will trade firefighter patches. (Ah, Gerda! Missed your chance to meet interesting men who share your love of firefighting!)
Iglesia de San Francisco is considered to be the oldest cathedral in Central America. Sadly, the famous robin’s egg blue paint seems to have faded.
Iglesia de San Francisco’s current building is fairly new – in 1524, it had wooden walls and a straw roof. It burned down about 160 years later to be rebuilt as a sturdier structure. In 1856, it was intentionally burned down by the infamous American scoundrel, William Walker. His men set fire to the city when they left, destroying most of it.
Walker was a power hungry mercenary who schemed to become President of Nicaragua with a goal to control all of Central America. Those other Central American countries took exception to the idea. Walker didn’t rule very long, a year perhaps. It’s said that in 1860, he was hunted down and executed in Honduras.
If you miss Catedral de Granada in the town plaza, you’re looking in the wrong direction
Catedral de Granada is a boldly painted church in the plaza. The sprawling building is quite prominent!
Enter a peaceful sanctuary
The cathedral’s first structure was built in 1583, destroyed by the previously mentioned 1856 city fire, then completely rebuilt by 1915.
To view more Granada iglesias, visit http://felipedelbosque.wordpress.com.
All around us, the city shows off its bright colors! The Baroque style with Moorish influence is quite evident. Granada is waiting to see if it qualifies for the World Heritage List.
Many styles of architecture abound!
A horse-drawn carriage goes by cheerfully painted houses.
Locals hang around a beautifully detailed gazebo
Life in here seems to be slow and easy.
Napping 4-legged resident
I was pleasantly surprised to see wrapped vegetables!
Stopping play to watch visitors
Often, you will see darling children, such as this one on the right, on my blog. Except in crowd shots, I always ask for permission to take their images if they are recognizable, be it for a photo or video. It’s a habit from working in media. It’s also the right thing to do. Especially in Central America, parents are very protective of their children. Several times, a negative shake of the head was sent my way and I moved on.
Tip: Please respect the cultures of countries you visit. I noticed that if I very politely and smilingly communicated with locals, they reciprocated. English-speaking locals or ex-pats were very kind to explain local customs.
Tip: If you are looking for a change of scenery, Granada offers a low cost of living, attractive incentives for foreign investors such as limited tax breaks and there are few restrictions on foreign ownership. Just be sure to visit before any decisions are made.