Granada is where Nicaragua puts on its best face for visitors.
It sits on the shore of the vast Lake Nicaragua, just an hour’s drive from the country’s capital, Managua.
Centuries-old colonial architecture fills the historic city center surrounding the neoclassical-style Cathedral of Granada and the Parque Central. Red tile roofs, brightly-painted walls, and large, imposing wooden doors line the narrow streets. Some exteriors feature elaborate tile work, wood carvings, or stone accents.
But many are quite plain...from the street, at least.
Poke your head into an open doorway and you’re likely to see a large courtyard with a garden...maybe a fountain or swimming pool. The perimeter of the courtyard is usually covered by a tile roof covering large wooden beams. Often, kitchens and living areas are open air, with enclosed high-ceiling bedrooms.
Granadinos, as residents call themselves, are proud of their homes, which have often been in the family for generations. Don’t be surprised if you’re invited in for a tour if somebody catches you peaking in.
Grand restored historic colonials are not just homes though. Many have also been turned into boutique hotels, hip clothing shops, restaurants and cafes, art galleries, and more. There’s nothing better than enjoying a cool drink in one of these courtyards, escaping the heat of the day thanks to great cross-ventilation (a feature of their design) and ceiling fans turning lazily.