The smallest of the departments of Nicaragua in area, is the department of Masaya which is subdivided into nine municipalities – Catarina, La Concepción, Masatepe, Masaya, Nandasmo, Nindirí, Niquinomo, San Juan de Oriente and Tisma. The city of Masaya, is the capital city of Masaya, and this city is widely considered the center of national folklore in Nicaragua and has been declared as the “cultural heritage of the Nation” and “Capital of Folklore.” The city has a rich history with many traditions of the Indian tribe Dirianes who were the original inhabitants of the area. Are evident traces of the Spanish who founded the town that later became the city of Masaya. Masaya market, is a major attraction in the city, with a variety of crafts for sale is the perfect place to buy a souvenir of Nicaragua.
Masaya Volcano National Park is about three miles from Masaya, and with the active Masaya Volcano is one of the attractions of the department. The hiking trails provide easy access to the volcano. Animal life and the lives of all types of flora are abundant and varied in the area. A museum in the Masaya Volcano National Park offers information on myths, folklore and history of the volcano. Also not too far from Masaya is the fortress El Coyote Century 19, where visitors can explore the fortress and its dungeons which served as a prison in the past.
The municipality of Catarina is famous for its nurseries which offer a wide variety of ornamental plants. These nurseries are located along roadsides and provide much beauty to the landscape of the area. From the Mirador de Catarina, visitors have a spectacular view of Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua Lake, the city of Granada and the majestic Mombacho. This is a very popular recreation area for locals and visitors, and picnic areas, park benches, restaurants and sellers of a variety of souvenirs created a festive atmosphere, while visitors can use telescopes to see the beautiful view.
Also of interest in the department of Masaya are the ceramic workshops in San Juan de Oriente, where visitors can observe the process of creating pottery and buy some high quality items for sale. A few miles west of this small town is Niquinohomo City, home of Nicaragua’s national hero, Augusto C. Sandino. The Masatepe people in the district of the same name, is well known for the production of wooden furniture, such as rocking babies is one of the most popular items and sold. The birding enthusiasts can visit the wetlands of the Laguna de Tisma, on the northeast corner of the department of Masaya, since it is a haven for migratory birds. Indeed, the Masaya department of Nicaragua has something for everyone and well worth exploring during a visit to Nicaragua.