A History of San Juan Del Sur

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Sure, San Juan del Sur is a surf-orientated region with beautiful beaches and landscapes. But did you know that San Juan del Sur also has a rich history with roots stretching back to the 16th century when Spanish conquistadors made use of the protected anchorage?

Then in the mid-1800 San Juan del Sur’s days were filled with gold prospectors eager to travel to California to seek their fortune.  A little later, waves of foreigners arrived to work with the Central and South American Telegraph that laid a submarine system of cables.   And in the early 1990’s San Juan del Sur’s train station was built connecting the town by rail to San Jorge, Managua and Granada.

As we were writing the Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur we sat down with Aroldo from the Tourism Information Office to map out a walking route that would delve into some of these historical landmarks. (The detailed route map is on page 28 of the guide).  Here are some of the highlights:

  • San Juan Bautista Church (Look for the statue of the patron saint of San Juan del Sur outside)
  • Tourism Information Office (pause at the famous mural)
  • Old North American consulate building (Somoza later used this as a holiday home)
  • Palacio de Communicaciones (check out the ‘missing’ word on the façade)
  • Hotel Victoriano (We’re told Mark Twain stayed here)
  • Estrella Hotel (The first hotel in town)
  • Estación Hotel (The site of the historic train station)
  • La Posada Azul (Restored colonial home and now a hotel)
  • City Hall Building in the 1970’s (San Juan del Sur had a female mayor at the time)

In Downtown San Juan del Sur the streets are laid out in a grid pattern so while not all of them are signposted, it’s easy to navigate. But we suggest taking a tour with the guides at the Tourism Information Office. They are knowledgeable, English speaking and will embellish your walk with rich insider knowledge.

So bring some comfy walking shoes, don’t head out in the midday sun and explore away.

Tourism Information Office
Located in a landmark building on the corner of the Church Square and Avenida Real. You’ll recognize this tourism information office by the large Sandino Mural painted on the façade. The guides here are certified by INTUR (Nicaragua’s tourism board) and offer a range of tours and general information.
Tour Guide Contact: Aroldo Collado
Tel: 8338 6105, 7855 4110