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Granada has the tourists, León has the UNESCO sites and the students. Not hard to guess which I liked better.
Upon arrival in Nicaragua I rented a car and headed west along the southern shore of Lago de Nicaragua, skirting Managua.
A couple hours later I was in UNESCO-listed León Viejo. The ruins are not as remarkable as the dramatic backdrop.
The modern city of León is a vibrant university-town centered on UNESCO-listed León Cathedral. The typical churches and markets sit amid lanes of bold, pastel houses, set amid rumbling volcanoes. An ideal place to wander, though do not neglect to head a couple km to the Subtiava, with the sun symbol in the wooden church’s ceiling, an early olive branch in to indigenous religion in Christian conversion efforts.
Granada, to the east of Managua, gets the tourist crowds, though I found it a desolate museum, while León is bustling. León’s hotels and restaurants are a rung below Granada, though, for those who want the boutique hotel and cafe wine-sipping experience.