Not many people take the time to visit Masatepe but if you do, you can expect to find a colorful, peaceful town with a very active social and cultural life. The Municipality of Masatepe is situated in Nicaragua’s Masaya department and it is roughly 45 kilometers northwest of Managua city. It is quite easy to reach by road if you take the Pan-American Highway from Managua towards Rivas. Take the turn to Catarina and then follow the sign that points towards Masatepe. Masatepe was only made a city in 1996, though it is so old that no one knows exactly when it was founded.
The age of the city is indicated by the fact that the city has a native name. The city was established by the natives of the Masatepina region and no official record was ever made of its founding date. The original settlers in the town belonged to the dirianes tribe – a tribe native to the Masaya department – and it is quite possible that the area got this name long before a tribe even settled here. The name basically means ‘deer place’ and the area was once heavily populated by deer. What is known about the foundation of the city is that more than 250 years ago, Masatepe was already a flourishing city with over a hundred houses and farms – even though early structures were only made of straw.
Today Masatepe enjoys a thriving local economy based on a number of carpentry workshops and small businesses. The level of social equity is higher here than in most other parts of Nicaragua and in many respects it is a place of opportunity. Unlike in other parts of the country, the restaurants and public services offered here are designed to cater mainly for the people of the city and not for tourists or for an elite social upper class. The town enjoys most basic facilities and a good number of public services such as libraries, schools, medical facilities and electricity. Masatepe also has a number of annual celebrations and festivities that are interesting to watch and learn about.