|A lion stands guard in the Cathedral square in León, Nicaragua.|
"La muy Noble y Leal Ciudad de León Santiago de los Caballeros"(the Most Noble and Loyal City of Leon of the Knights of Saint James)" of Nicaragua was founded in 1524 by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Hernández de Córdoba in a plain next to Lake Xolotlan. León quickly became a bustling Spanish city, with prolific agricultural lands and economic opportunities to those newly arrived from across the seas; but after the murder of their Bishop (Fray Antonio Valdivieso) and the frequent earthquakes that threatened to destroy it, life in León soon turned distasteful, and the city was dismantled and abandoned in 1610. León then became a New World Pompeii, drowned by the ashes of the majestic Momotombo.
|The Archeological Site of "León Viejo", a World Heritage UNESCO site. Nicaragua.|
|Momotombo watches over León Viejo.|
|The Church of Saint John the Baptist, built in 1698. Barrio de Subtiaba in Leon, Nicaragua.|
|The Sun god of the Subtiabas shines over the nave of the Church of Saint John the Baptist. |
Barrio de Subtiaba in Leon, Nicaragua
|Colonial house in the "Recolección" neighborhood.|
|Colonial house in the "La Recolección" neighborhood.|
|This colonial house has been transformed into an entertainment center, complete with restaurants, shops, and a movie theater. León, Nicaragua.|
|This colonial house now houses the Fundación Ortiz Gurdián, León's premier art gallery.|
Many important civic buildings were built in the years following the move from the lake shore, and in 1706 work for a new cathedral began according to the designs of Guatemalan architect Diego Jose de Porres y Esquivel in the Baroque style so prevalent at the time.
|"The Most Distinguished and Royal Basilica and Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary". A World Heritage UNESCO site in Leon, Nicaragua.|
More on the Cathedral in my next post...
Other remarkable buildings from this period include the church of "Our lady of Mercy" (known today simply as "La Merced") erected in 1762, and the church of "The Recollection" (known as "La Recolección) built in 1786. Both buildings exemplify the exuberant colonial Baroque style that we have to come to associate with church architecture in Mexico, Guatemala, or Peru, and they stand in contrast to the sober elegance of the Cathedral.
|The church of "La Merced" in Leon, Nicaragua.|
|The church of "La Recolección" in León, Nicaragua.|
|The door of the "Colegio Seminario Tridentino de San Ramón" in León, Nicaragua.|
|The National University's original seat today is used as the Administration Building. León, Nicaragua.|
|The front court of the National University's Administration Building. León, Nicaragua.|
The Convent of San Francisco was founded in 1639 as the first such institution of the city, and in 1829, when a government decree ended recognition of all religious orders, the convent's buildings were bequeathed to the city and they became the prestigious Instituto National de Occidente. Today the convent buildings no longer house the Institute, instead, a restoration that loving erased the ravages of earthquakes and war has transformed the convent into a hotel.
|The Convent of San Francisco, now the "Hotel El Convento" in León, Nicaragua.|
All images by Nadia Palacios Lauterbach.
*Lyrics of León's popular anthem "Corrido a León".