Masaya is perhaps the most interesting volcano in Nicaragua as well as the most visited since it was made into a national park by the Sandinistas in 1979. Masaya's history, if not the volcano itself, is very interesting. The Spanish discovered it in 1524 and subsequently climbed up to its highest point and built a wooden cross to deter the pagan Indians from throwing people into it as a sacrifice (the cross is still there and a flight of stairs lets you climb up to it). Masaya is basaltic volcano which has non-typical explosive eruptions. The last eruption was in 1993, the 19th since it was discovered. Masaya is actually a caldera with three main cones called Masaya, Nindiri, and Santiago. Although all three of them can be seen in the park, Santiago is the only frequently visited one, due to its open vent at the bottom which exposes the bubbling lava. Masaya frequently emits large amounts of sulfuric gas and tourists consequently don't like to stand downwind for very long (unless they love the smell of rotten eggs). Masaya has a shield morphology and evidences fire-fountaning, the only known place in Central America to exhibit this bizzare behavior.
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