Managua has an interesting kind of charm. Following the overthrow of the Somoza regime by the Sandinistas, Managua became something of a cultural and artistic center. Volunteers from all over the world came to help rebuild the country and brought artistic and literary influences that led to a brief renaissance before the outbreak of the civil war. Some of this spirit survives in Managua and can be mined by the diligent cultural tourist.
Yet Managua is for the adventurous wayfarer. A 1972 earthquake killed as many as 10,000 people and devastated the city center. Downtown Managua is today a maze of rubble and collapsed buildings.
For those who can afford it, a few nightclubs and restaurants scattered throughout the city cater to well-to-do citizens and the occasional tourist.
Nearby Granada on Lake Nicaragua is undoubtably one of the most beautiful cities in Central America. Quiet cobblestone streets, elegant colonial homes, and beautifully maintained parks are the hallmarks of this 400-year-old city. Long the richest and most conservative enclave of Nicaragua, Granada has remained a gem throughout the years of political troubles. The lakefront features numerous open-air bars and restaurants, and the locals frequently dance and drink the night away on weekends.