The oldest city in Central America.
Granada was founded in Xalteva (Jalteva) next to Lake Cocibolca, or Grand Lake of Nicaragua, by the Spanish conqueror Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba in 1524, constituting one of the oldest colonial settlements of Central America. Francisco named Granada after his home in Spain.
The habitants lived their everyday life in Xalteva as butchers, warriors and artists who had knowledge in various disciplines like astronomy, botany and medicine, and group of traders were also part of this Indian kingdom.
After the Nicaraguan historian Jorge Eduarde Arellanom, the historical beginning of Granada can be distinguished in the fusion of architectonic elements and the construction of the city, which was based on the exploration of the river San Juan.
The purpose of those explorations was to find a waterway from the lake until the Atlantic Ocean, which framed the destination, and raised the quality of its harbor. That was an important part of the splendor and decline of the city Granada.
Poets and journalists named Granada the city "Sirena" (siren), because in reality it consists of two opposite parts: one urban and one with an open view over the lake Cocibolca.
During the Colonial period, Granada became one of the most important commercial harbors in Central America. At the same time many important buildings were being constructed in the city and all following the architectonic principle of Spanish cities.
In the first 60 years of the 17th. century, the commercial peak changed Granada to one of the main cities. An earthquake caused by the eruption of Volcano Momotombo in 1610 destroyed León, the twin city of Granada. Because of this event, Granada became the most important city of Nicaragua.
The inhabitants of the region lived from tobacco and cacao plantation and cattle and donkey breeding. Granada's business effected Cartagena, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama and Peru.
The increase in business at the route Gran Lago and Del Rio San Juan, the colonial competition of Spain and England, the Netherlands and France, made Granada a victim of at least three pirate attacks.
In 1670 the pirate Gallardito attacked Granada, scoffing at the Spanish resistance. To be saved for such attacks, the colonial authorities built El Castillo de la Imaculata Concepcion (Castle of Immaculate Conception) by Rio San Juan in 1675. The castle helped to defend the country from pirates and Britains, who pretend to take possession of the main route of communication. Although the fortification was constructed, the pirate Frances William Dampier plundered and set the city fire on 8 th April in 1685.
Due to earthquakes during the same year , the water level of Rio San Juan increased at many places. This event caused an interruption of the connection and communication between Lake Cocibolca and the Atlantic Ocean, which resulted in great damages of Granada's economy. In 1751, Luis Diez Navarro constructed the fort La Polvora in the access of Granada. Other smaller forts at the banks of the lake and El Castello San Pablo on one of the islands (Las Isletas) were constructed in 1789.
In the beginning of the 19th century, the colonial city kept a regular growing business with the Antilles. This time is also characterized with short periods of war, mainly against the Spanish Imperial (1812), and about a decade later against the Mexican government.
On the 22 nd of November Granada was set on fire by the pirate Henningsen and many of the cities buildings became badly damaged.
William Walker, an adventurer, that wanted to take over Central America, attacked Granada and elected him self to president in 1855. Walker instituted slavery and declared English as the official language. Nevertheless the target to conquer all Central American countries did not work out, Walker had to flee and Granada was once again set on fire.
After another National war in 1854, reconstruction of Granada was being started. At the same time the city became the political capital which lasted until Granada lost its political balance, caused by a liberal revolution, ordered by the General José Santos Zelaya. 1893 Zelaya deposed the Conservative president and became dictator of the country.
In the 21st century, there were other developments in Granada. With the following commercial and industrial activities, Granada lost its political supremacy, but not its colonial and neoclassic city character. In the beginning of the 20th century, Granada was considerate to be the most beautiful city in Nicaragua. The following years were dedicated to save and conserve its historical center ,because there was a demand to preserve the city's cultural treasure for the future of Granada.