Visit the Capital City of Nicaragua’s Chontales Region
As the capital city of the Chontales region, Juigalpa is the region’s commercial center and vital to the economy of Nicaragua. It is located in the Amerrisque Mountain valley on the Atlantic Highway running between Managua and the lowlands. There are a number of factories and processing plants for local produce in Juigalpa, including tanneries for the production of leather and facilities for processing coffee – one of Nicaragua’s top crops and biggest export products. Juigalpa also has some interesting sights for visitors to explore and is host to a festival considered to be one of the best in Central America, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary held in the middle of August each year.
The city of Juigalpa dates back to 1668 when it was founded by Jeronimo Villegas on land granted by a Spanish government representative. The town was given the status of department’s capital in June 1877, and declared to be a city in January 1879. At the time, Juigalpa was an economic center and provisions supplier for miners and farmers in the surrounding areas and it remains an important commercial center for the agricultural sector in Chontales region (the producer of up to 90 percent of Nicaragua’s beef) today.
As is the case with many towns and cities in Nicaragua, Juigalpa is built around the city’s Main Square. The square features the Cathedral, offices for the city’s public infrastructure, shops, restaurants, cafés and bars. There is a street reserved for pedestrians – Peatonal Asunción – which has landscaped gardens, a fountain, trees and benches to relax on. For a spectacular view of the city and the majestic Amerrisque Mountains, visitors can walk around four blocks north of the main plaza to Palo Solo Park.
Juigalpa is home to the Thomas Belt Zoo, named in honor of the English geologist and naturalist who wrote the book The Naturalist in Nicaragua in 1874, in which he described various features of Nicaragua, including his view that there had been glaciers in the country in the distant past. He also identified and described a species of neotropical red ants Pseudomyrmex spinicola found only in Nicaragua and neighboring Costa Rica. The zoo is home to a wide variety of animals and worth a visit when exploring the city of Juigalpa in Nicaragua.