Of course the most obvious attraction to Masaya is the Masaya Volcano national park.
After paying a minimal entrance fee, you must drive up a winding road to the mouth of
the volcano and park.
The Masaya Volcano is a breathtaking dynamic show that mother
Nature puts on every day for your benefit. From there you might be able to walk around
to the edge and peer down almost 200 meters and see the glowing, smoking lava in the bottom
which the Spanish described in letter to the King in 1525 as, "a mouth of fire that never
ceases to boil." After that, if your legs aren’t numb by that time, you should climb up
to the top of the hill where a Spanish friar erected a cross in 1529 to try to keep the
Indians from throwing virgins into the crater to appease the god of fire. The simple
wooden cross still stands today. The hyperactive could climb down the back way of the
hill to the other crater and spell out words with the lava laying around the edge of the
crater. The active crater is called Santiago and the other, which has been dormant for
200 years, is called San Fernando.
There are also about a dozen hiking trails around the park and the rangers from the
park station will sometimes conduct guided tours into the Cueva de los Murcielagos
(the Bat Cave) which was formed when the lava from the Santiago crater erupted under
|San Cristobal crater at Masaya with bubbling lava at the bottom. Copyright: Thinkquest Team 17749|
Sometimes the park may be closed because of the danger of eruptions or repairs so potential
visitors should call ahead to make sure. TEL: 522-5415
Then, if you can still walk without groaning, go down to the actual city of Masaya.
Eager bargainers and native-artifact-junkies will be delighted by the prices and the many artisan
shops that sell native handicrafts and the city market which carries such diverse objects
as pottery, embroidery, wooden and silver trinkets, hammocks, and everything under the sun
made from leather. Stock up on native artifacts and stuff to awe the boss and the neighbors
|The Masaya market is famous for its colorful hand-made hammocks. Copyright: Ministry of Tourism|
When the Spanish first came to the little village at the base of Santiago’s crater,
they brought with them a saint called San Geronimo which they placed in a church that
the missionaries built. The Indians, of course, where not Catholic so they did not
give the saint the attention that he might have gotten elsewhere. Then, one day,
the volcano erupted very forcefully and lava began to pour from its sides. The lava
kept on crawling toward the village and the people knew that their homes were going to be
destroyed. They had heard that the saint was very powerful and could do miracles, though,
so they grabbed the statue and marched with it toward the advancing lava. To their
astonishment, the lava stopped, and the saint had saved their village. After that,
they decided to play it safe and move the village farther away from the crater. In
Spanish, "farther away" is pronounced mas aya. So the city that they later built
away from the volcano was called Masaya.