One of the oldest Spanish colonial settlements, it was abandoned in 1610 after the eruption of Momotombo
A city buried in ash
The ruins of León Viejo (Old León) were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, a distinction that confirms the importance of the site and its urban testimonial to Nicaragua's second-oldest city, and one of the most important in the region. The city was founded in the first third of the 16th century, near Lake Xolotlán and beside Momotombo Volcano, and was the home of merchants who traded precious metals; this transformed the city into an economic hub of the utmost importance. In 1610, its residents abandoned their homes following the eruption of Momotombo, which served as the prelude to the construction of the current city of León, thirty kilometres to the west of its predecessor, which was buried by ash and stone in the aftermath of the volcano. Among the ruins of León Viejo, visitors can observe the remains of the houses, as well as a reconstruction of its ancient church. Today, this is proof of the social and economic structures of the Spanish Empire during the 16th century.