Explore the two Leons: the original 16th-century city, which was once buried in volcanic ash, and then a later version, which became an alluring colonial city.
Depart from the pier and drive inland to Lake Managua, which is often referred to by its indigenous name Xolotian. Here, in 1524 Spanish conquistadors founded the original city of Leon, now known as Old Leon. Although in ruins, the city is an archaeological marvel because it was abandoned after a series of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes in the early 1600s, which buried everything in ash. The city stood completely undisturbed until 1967, when excavation began, leading to Old Leon’s nickname “The Pompeii of Central America.”
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city offers a remarkable glimpse into 16th-century life in one of the earliest Spanish colonial settlements. During your guided tour of the well-preserved ruins, you will see a cathedral, convent, royal foundry and private homes constructed of wood, bamboo and mud. Eventually, the inhabitants left and established a newer Leon, which you will explore following a buffet lunch at a local restaurant there.
You’ll experience the colonial city’s charm firsthand by touring the main plaza and the magnificent Leon Cathedral, whose construction began in 1747. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedral beautifully illustrates several architectural styles and features thick low towers shaped to withstand earthquakes. As you walk through the interior, you will notice the abundance of natural sunlight and rich ornamentation, including a treasured wooden Flemish altarpiece. At the conclusion of your guided walking tour, you will re-board your coach and drive back to the pier in Corinto.
Please note: This tour includes nearly 4-hours of travel on a coach and just over 2-hours of moderate walking. There are an optional 60 steps to negotiate if guests wish to visit the roof of the cathedral. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair, are able to make their own way on and off the coach and have an able-bodied companion to assist them. Those guests with mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; a bottle of water from the ship; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Please check with your guide before taking photos in Old Leon as there are some restrictions. *Daytime temperatures in this destination can be quite high.*