Nicaraguan Site Added to UNESCO List

Leon was first founded by Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba in 1524. The city has an ancient history, with its former location, Leon Viejo, added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in the year 2000. It was announced that another four sites have been inducted into the UNESCO World Heritage Site listings, of which a site in Leon of Nicaragua was one of them.

The four sites added by UNESCO include the Petroglyphs Complexes of the Mongolian Altai in Mongolia, the Leon Cathedral in Nicaragua, the Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitains in Ukraine and the Causses and the Cevennes, Mediterranean Agro-pastoral Cultural Landscape in France.

Most consider the Leon Cathedral to be built in an eclectic style, as the construction of the cathedral took a number of years to complete, and shows design features from the Baroque period right through to the introduction of Neoclassical architecture. Work on the cathedral began in 1747 and was only completed in the early years of the nineteenth century. The cathedral was designed by Diego Jose de Porres Esquivel, an architect from Guatemala, and today, the structure is one of the most prominent buildings in the city, located on the central plaza. The interior of the church is as spectacular as its exterior, with a magnificent Flemish altarpiece and breathtaking paintings adorning the walls of the cathedral. The abundance of natural light within the cathedral enhances all its priceless features.

Below the church are a number of tombs, but the tomb in the center of the church is the most noteworthy. Covered by a lion carved from stone, the final resting place of the famous Nicaraguan poet, Ruben Dario, is one of the major attractions of the cathedral. The other tombs are not accessible. To ensure that the cathedral was able to withstand natural disasters, such as earthquakes, seven cellars were constructed under the cathedral. These were also used to hide treasure and as storage facilities. The cellars lead to tunnels that interlink with other churches, which served as escape options if the cathedral came under attack. Visitors are also able to climb onto the rooftop of the cathedral. Over and above the wonderful panoramic view that the rooftop offers, visitors will be able to appreciate why it took so long to construct the cathedral, as it features no less than thirty-six spectacular domes. The roof also has a great number of bells, and massive statues, of which there are four. It is easy to see how this wonderful historical structure made it onto the World Heritage Site list and is an attraction visitors should make the effort to explore.