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Revolution Lives On In The City Of León

Cathedral in Leon

Cathedral of the Assumption

León, Nicaragua

The city of León has a violent history that leaves its mark even today. This crumbling college town is a center for art, revolution, and poetry.

The bohemian city of León is probably my favorite city in Nicaragua. It’s not too big, but not too small either. It has a rich history, but it hasn’t been cleaned up for tourists.

The people of León are friendly, independent, and proud.

Scars of War

Scars of War

History Of Revolution

Nicaragua was engaged in popular revolution in the 1960’s and 1970’s, after enduring a long dictatorship since the 1930’s. León was a battle ground and the scene of a student-led uprising and subsequent government massacre.

Nicaragua’s ruthless American-backed dictator was assassinated here. Anastasio Somoza García ruled the country with an iron fist, and his son took power after his death.

In 1979, the family finally lost power after fierce fighting by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). Murals depicting the revolution are located all around León.

Leon Nicaragua Church

Iglesia de la Recoleccion

Tasty & Cheap Street Food

Tasty & Cheap Street Food

Mixture of Age & Beauty

The city of León has it all. You can find tasty & cheap street food even at 2am. Almost every meal I ate was prepared on the street.

I filled my belly with greasy goodness every night for about $2 US. There are also some beautifully aged churches all over the place.

The black-sand beaches of Las Penitas are only 30 minutes away. The volcanoes of the Cordillera de Los Maribios mountains are right next door too. León’s citizens are friendly and the city is safe, but it still has a bit of an edge.

Local Girls

Local Girls

Loud Streets

In the mornings the whole city wakes up to the sound of a 7am air-siren. It goes off again at noon, signaling lunch time. If you’re in the Central Park when it’s unleashed, get ready for a jolt! It’s so loud it hurts, and you have to stick fingers in your ears.

I also had to endure the constant musical calls of the tortilla sales-ladies who walked the streets. Boy do they have some pipes! Once or twice was amusing, but getting forced to listen over and over again became pretty annoying. It was impossible to have a conversation or do any work while they were in the area.

Nicaraguan Transportation

Nicaraguan Transportation

One Year Is Not Enough!

I spent my days here sledding down volcanoes, shooting pool, volunteering in remote villages, listening to live music, watching cockfights, working on my travel blog, and chatting with veterans of the revolution.

The more I travel, the more I realize that staying in one place for longer results in a better overall experience.

I’m not so sure I’m going to be able to see & do everything I want in only one year… I’m 4 months into my trip and still in Central America!

It’s a big beautiful world out there…

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Good Hotel or Hostel: Tortuga Booluda Hostel
Good Food: The women running grills behind the main cathedral in central park! Bar Corinto is a great local restaurant too.

Packing Guide

Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip. Pick up a travel backpack, camera gear, and other useful travel accessories.

Book Your Flight

Book cheap flights on Skyscanner, my favorite airline search engine to find deals. Also read my tips for how I find the cheapest flights.

Rent A Car

Discover Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find the best deal. They search both local & international rental companies.

Book Accommodation

Booking.com is my favorite hotel search engine. Or rent local apartments on Airbnb ($35 discount!). Read my post for tips on booking cheap hotels.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance.
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READ MORE NICARAGUA TRAVEL TIPS

I hope you enjoyed my guide to the city of León! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

Garcia

Thursday 12th of January 2012

If anyone is looking for some amazing food while in León, check out Cafetin DANK! I just came back from there and I highly recommend! The address listed is Del Hotel Convento Media Cuadra Abajo

Claire

Sunday 14th of August 2011

Good stuff Matt. Wish I would have spent more than one weekend in Leon. I did stay at the Tortuga Balooda though! Good spot.

Trish

Wednesday 23rd of February 2011

Just make sure that you include trips home to see your family when you extend that trip. I love following the stories and pictures but would like to see you in the flesh every now and then too. = )

Matthew Karsten

Tuesday 8th of March 2011

Of course I'll be doing that! :)

Pat

Wednesday 23rd of February 2011

How about Travels with Matt or Vagabonding with Matt? Enjoyed the commentary and the photos are bright with great human interest. Love the posts.

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures

Wednesday 23rd of February 2011

Have you thought about extending your trip? Once you get to South America, trust me, you will NEVER want to leave.

Matthew Karsten

Wednesday 23rd of February 2011

Yes, and am planning on changing the name of my site as well. :-)

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