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La Gran Sultana: History, Charm, and Class in Granada, Nicaragua

Nicaragua is known as the land of lakes and volcanoes. In Granada, you can have both, and a beautifully preserved historic city, to boot. Located at the foot of the Mombacho volcano and along the shore of Lake Nicaragua, Granada dates back to the sixteenth century. Nicknamed "La Gran Sultana" because of its Moorish and Andalusian architectural flair, for centuries it dueled with Leon for the status of the premier city of Nicaragua. It saw numerous conflicts, as the English, Dutch, Spanish, and Americans all battled for control of the Central American isthmus.

Despite the fact that much of old Granada was burned in the 19th century by an American adventurer trying to set himself up as a monarch, Granada still retains a historic feel. This is evident in its signature pastel buildings dating from colonial days. Its "Parque Colon" or Central Park is the heart of the city, and neoclassical cathedrals, centuries-old houses, and Spanish mission churches draw visitors. Horse-drawn carriages rumble visitors down its streets, although the city is also easily walkable. Far more than a tourist town, however, Granada has a vivid arts and cultural scene and a vibrant café culture. This is, in fact, a strong draw for many expatriates, who enjoy strolling through the heart of the historic city, pausing for a cup of locally grown coffee or Nicaraguan hot chocolate. Granada is known for its cuisine, as well.

One major reason people are purchasing Granada Nicaragua real estate is that all of these things – the culture, the food, a relaxed lifestyle in a historic city – are extremely affordable for North Americans and Europeans. For example, the finest dining in Granada is probably only about $30 for a couple. Transportation within the country is also inexpensive, meaning that visitors and expatriates can explore its wonderful diversity and impressive landscapes for very little money. A day trip from Granada, exploring some nearby islets by boat and going all the way to the summit of the Mombacho Volcano, with lunch provided, only costs $45 per person.

Granada, with its mellow, friendly charm, is appealing to expatriates who wish to live a life of luxury for what, in the U.S., would leave them just getting by. In fact, International Living and the AARP both name Granada among the top retirement destinations in the world. Granada is a small city, but those who occasionally need more amenities, a greater variety of shopping opportunities, or a visit to Nicaragua's high-quality medical care will find those things only an hour away in Managua.

Granada, Nicaragua real estate is a huge part of its appeal to expatriates. A spacious, restored colonial home can be found for only $200,000 – a fraction of the cost of a historic home in many U.S. cities! Those who visit, explore, or move to Nicaragua usually find that, counter to the negative stigma that the country has acquired, it's friendly, welcoming, and generally quite safe. If you'd like to get to know the real Nicaragua, Granada is a wonderful place to visit or to live.