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León Cathedral

León Cathedral
The León Cathedral is a typical colonial baroque building. It is one of the largest in Central America and, since 1531, one of the oldest dioceses in the Americas.

It was built between 1747 and 1814 in the regional Antigüeño Baroque style (originating in Antigua Guatemala). Because of the strength of its walls, it has survived earthquakes, volcanic eruptions of the Cerro Negro and wars.


Jorge Sanchez (Spain):
I still remember the train journey, long, very long, from Managua to León, but I liked it. I was the only tourist on board. Those were the times of the communism (year 1984) of Daniel Ortega, and everything was so cheap that I bought several book in León for just cents, to read them during my one month stay in that country, mostly in Corn Island.
Today I understand that the best of León was the train journey itself.
The journey took several hours to cross less than 100 kilometers. I remember that I had to spend the night in León because I arrived the afternoon. Anyway I had time to visit its downtown and specially the huge cathedral, called Basílica Catedral de la Asunción de León, built by a guatemaltecan architect still during the Spanish colonial times.
The next day I returned to Managua, again by train (I love trains).
Unfortunately this romantic way of travelling, using the train, does not exist anymore in Nicaragua. The trains and rails were dismantled some years after my visit to sell the iron and other metals.
Date posted: April 2014
Joseph Colletti (U.S.A):
The cathedral, supposedly the largest in Central America, dominates the square and its massive walls are most impressive. Despite the citation's reference to natural light I found the interior dim and many of the paintings darkened by age. There are several other churches in Leon of note, though none approaches the size of the cathedral. The mix of styles may be more apparent to art historians than the casual visitor and those who have visited the silver and gold laden cathedral of Mexico City or the churches of Cuzco and Quito may be underwhelmed by the ornamentation of this cathedral.

The city of Leon itself is an interesting contrast to the more visited Granada, Leon's historical rival, in both its architecture and culture. (Unlike Granada, Leon was a battleground during the fight to oust Somoza in the 70s and there are many reminders of this struggle throughout the city.) It is well worth a visit.

There is frequent bus service from Managua and the ruins of Leon Viejo, another world heritage site are nearby as are some interesting "fumoroles" or steam vents from the nearby volcanoes.
Date posted: August 2011

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Site info

León Cathedral
Country: Nicaragua
Inscribed: 2011
Cultural Heritage
Criteria:  (2) (4)
Category: Religious structure, Christian

Site history:
2011 Inscribed
Reasons for inscription

Site links

Official website:
»Patrimonio Monumental de Léon

In the news:
Not available

Related links:
» Wondermondo: Cathedral of the Assumption, León.

Getting there

This WHS has 1 location(s).

Léon is one of Nicaragua's 3 main cities. Its white domes provide an easy landmark to locate the cathedral from anywhere within the city.


Baroque . Neoclassical architecture .
Mosaic art .
Religion and Belief
Cathedrals .
Built in the 18th century .
Located in a Former Capital . Smallest cultural WHS .
World Heritage Process
Single Monuments .

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