San Juan de Oriente: The Town of Potters

Approximately forty-five kilometers from the city of Managua is a town that is famous for its traditional crafts – San Juan de Oriente. It can also be reached by bus from Masaya, Rivas and Catarina. San Juan de Oriente was previously known by the name of San Juan de los Platos, due to its deep rooted pre-Hispanic history and culture of producing the most beautiful clay artifacts and crafts that are world famous. The villagers here are friendly and welcoming, eager to share their talents and artistic masterpieces with visitors. Complimenting the magnificent crafts created here, the town is located in a picturesque part of Nicaragua.

As you enter the town you will see pottery shops in every direction as the majority of the population here earns a living creating there colorful art pieces. Most families work together to create their pottery, with the women polishing the fresh ceramic while the men create the next on their potters’ wheels. Other members of the family will be in charge of the carving and designs, while the kiln is overseen by someone else. Their work has had such a major impact on the industry that pottery from San Juan de Oriente can be bought in destinations as far as Europe. Purchasing a piece directly from the source does make a wonderful souvenir and showpiece.

There are only approximately four thousand residents in the town, and to see a vehicle is a rare occurrence, as they live peacefully without the pressures of modernization. The town does, however, have a few attractions, such as the church, which is located in the center of the town, that dates back four hundred years.

Sport is also another popular activity in the town. As small as what the town is, it has no less than ten men’s soccer teams, and even have their own soccer league in which the teams participate. San Juan de Oriente celebrates San Juan Bautista during the month of June and this is an extremely festive period of the year, where celebrations spill out onto the streets, accompanied by delicious traditional dishes, folk dances, music and the riding of bulls. The town has a unique atmosphere and culture and visitors to Nicaragua will most definitely enjoy exploring San Juan de Oriente.