The Magnificent Churches of Chinandega

The town of Chinandega, Nicaragua, is located about a hundred and thirty kilometers outside of Managua and is most known for its agricultural industry that produces sugarcane, oils, flour, liquor and due to its close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, it is also a shrimp producer. Its tropical weather is a lure for tourist and the greatest attractions in Chinandega are its churches. Historic, beautiful and magnificent, they are monuments to the heritage of the town, and are still in use today.

Four of the churches in Chinandega are seen as major attractions, and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of them. This spectacular church was constructed in 1855, in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the construction took place during a devastating cholera outbreak. On 25 December 1856, an Our Lady of Guadalupe image was first revealed to the public and the greatest privilege was bestowed on the church by Pope Pius IX when he gave the church the title of sanctuary, the first Central American church to have received this honor. As with most buildings during the 1885 earthquake, the building did suffer damage, but through the generosity and care of the COEN Foundation, the church was restored to its former glory and is easily recognizable by its blue exterior walls.

The earthquake damage that was caused to the Iglesia San Antonio Church was seen as an opportunity to enlarge the church building. Complete restoration was done in 1923 and for years the aristocracy and high society members of the town, chose this church for their weddings and other religious celebrations. In 1874, Bishop Monsignor Manuel Ulloa y Calvo, oversaw the construction of the El Calvario Parish, which was rebuilt after 1885 with the assistance of the COEN Foundation which stepped in to restore the church to its present form which is orange in color.

Our Lady Santa Ana Parish is the main church of Chinandega and the town has been constructed around the park that is home to this breathtaking Romanesque church. It was built during the seventeenth century, and though affected by the 1885 earthquake; it was restored to its original form complete with limestone walls, tiled floors, bells and large authentic doors.

The churches of Chinandega are truly magnificent structures that have managed to survive wars, natural disasters and major earthquakes, to be a part of the history of the town, as well as a part of its future. Other churches in Chinandega are also in the process of being restored by the COEN Foundation. Tourists to Nicaragua are recommended to include the town of Chinandega in their travels, as they will find the churches to be beautiful inside and out, and are noteworthy sites to visit.