Behind that impressive facade that was once a convent and church, standing above most of the city of Granada, is the city’s main museum. Its exhibits are rather eclectic, but many of them relate in some way to the history of Granada and the nearby region.
The building facade used to be baby blue with white trim. Now it’s an off-white with white trim. And it’s very much a facade, with the building behind it not matching the style of the facade much at all.
The convent was originally constructed in the 16th century, but has undergone many changes in the century since and was burned down several times as the city succumbed to raids of pirate raids. When President of the Central American Federation Francisco Morazan expelled religious orders from the country in 1830, the convent was converted to educational purposes. In 1836 it became a university, it was rebuilt in 1868, and in 1874 it was the College of Granada, followed by the National Institute of the East until 1975. In 1989, with help from the Historical Museum in Stockholm, it was renovated again.1
When you first walk in you enter an initial small courtyard with one of its walls completely covered in a large mural with panels depicting the history of Granada from the time of the indigenous peoples through the founding of the city during colonial times through the modern day.
In one corner of the courtyard is the gift shop and ticket office. That opens onto the inner courtyard, around which are most of the museum’s exhibit areas. (There was once another courtyard even further through, but it’s now mostly in ruins.)
One room displays colorful paintings related in some way to the city of Granada. Another houses religious art, with an apparent fascination on rather gruesome aspects of the crucifixion. Another has a scale model of the city of Granada, and there’s a scale model of the Granada Cathedral in another. There’s a small collection of recovered pottery from pre-colonial times as well as a mock-up of a Maya pole performance. Along one side of the courtyard, a local artist (Sergio Canuda, originally from Mexico) displays his drawings, paintings, and incredibly detailed miniatures carved into toothpicks (complete with magnifying glasses with which to view them better).
The museum’s highlight is a large collection of stone statues, fashioned out of heavy volcanic basalt, most of which were discovered on Isla Zapatera in the early 1880s and date to around 800 to 1200 AD. Most of the statues line the sides of a covered outdoor wing along an edge of what was once another courtyard area.
What To Know Before You Go
- It’s sometimes known as the Convento y Museo San Francisco, the San Francisco Convent, the Museum of San Francisco, or, more correctly these days, the Centro Cultural Convento San Francisco.
- It’s located just a few blocks northeast of the Parque Central.
- Entry tickets are $2 (or about 56 cordobas, depending on the exchange rate at the time). You can pay in dollars or cordobas.
- Personal guides are often available near the main entrance, by the mural. Most offer their services for tips.
Travel Advice for Nicaragua
You can find the latest U.S. Department of State travel advisories and information for Nicaragua (such as entry visa requirements and vaccination requirements) here.
The British and Australian governments offer their own country-specific travel information. You can find the British Government's travel advice for Nicaragua here and the Australian Government's here.
Health & Vaccinations
The CDC makes country-specific recommendations for vaccinations and health for travelers. You can find their latest information for Nicaragua here.
Guidebooks for Nicaragua
If you're looking for a guidebook to make the most of your visit, these are some of the most popular ones currently for Nicaragua. Some are available in both paper and e-book formats.
- Kaminski, Anna (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- Lonely Planet Nicaragua
- Lonely Planet (Author)
- Surfers guide book to traveling in Costa Rica
- Offers plenty of helpful hints
- Lonely Planet
- Lonely Planet (Author)
Travel Insurance For Your Trip to Nicaragua
I never travel without travel insurance, and I've run into several situations where I've had to make claims. I consider it essential.
But shopping for travel insurance can be a pain and confusing. Thankfully, there are some travel insurance comparison sites that show you a wide range of plans, make it easy to compare coverage, and can save you money at the same time. And the coverage can be much better tailored to your specific needs than the checkbox offering at travel booking sites or through your credit card.
These are some good places to shop for travel insurance for your next trip to Nicaragua :
Hopefully, you won't need it, but if something goes wrong, you'll sure be glad you have it!