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Colonial Cities in Central America

Central America's Spanish colonial cities

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Central America has an extensive colonial history that dates back to the late fifteenth century, when Christopher Columbus "discovered" the Central America isthmus (naturally, the indigenous people of Central America already knew about it). Over the course of the next couple centuries, Spanish conquistadors colonized the majority of Central America. Today, several of these former Spanish colonies are favorite destinations of Central America travelers.

1. Antigua Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala
Bob Klingenberg, goodtimebob.com

Founded in 1543, Antigua Guatemala is by far the best-preserved Spanish colonial city in Central America, and the most popular for travelers. Because of its matchless historical relics like colonial churches, it's been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

2. Granada Nicaragua

Granada Nicaragua
Kirsten Hubbard

Established in 1524, Granada is the oldest European-founded city in Nicaragua, the second oldest in Central America, and the third oldest in the Americas. The colonial city sits on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. Travelers will find Granada less expensive than Antigua Guatemala, but similar in many ways.

3. Trujillo Honduras

Trujillo, in the Colón province of Honduras, represents the first time Christopher Columbus set foot on the Central American mainland in 1502. The city of Trujillo was founded in 1524, and was a target for numerous pirate attacks over the centuries. Today, the colonial city is also home to three Garifuna fishing villages, as well as the tomb of infamous mercenary William Walker.

4. Flores Guatemala

Flores Guatemala
Kirsten Hubbard

Flores, Guatemala is located on a tiny island in Northern Guatemala's Lake Peten Itza, connected to the mainland suburb of Santa Elena by a causeway. Flores was once a Mayan city called Tayasal, which the Spaniards conquered in 1697 via boats. The cluster of brightly-colored buildings serves as a great stopping point for travelers on their way to the Tikal ruins.

5. León Nicaragua

León is the second-largest city in Nicaragua, after the capital city Managua. The city was originally founded in 1524 about 20 miles away, but was moved in 1610 after a nearby volcano erupted. León is comparable to Granada in the number of historical sites located in the city.
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