Nicaragua in Central America is one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week, so why not spend a few minutes today learning about one of Nicaragua’s World Heritage Sites: the Ruins of León Viejo.
León Viejo (Old León) is the site of one of the oldest European settlements in Central America:
The Ruins of León Viejo are located near the town of Puerto Momotombo opposite the volcano of the same name, at the western end of Lake Managua, itself located 68 km from the capital of Managua. The archaeological site includes all vestiges unearthed to date and the surrounding area.
The Ruins of León Viejo are an exceptional testimony of the first European settlements in the New World. Founded in 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, during its short history the city has undergone a series of natural disasters. Partially destroyed by the Momotombo volcano that erupted in 1578, the earthquake of 1610 struck the final blow by destroying what remained standing. The decision was taken to move the city and to rebuild it six leagues away. The gradual burial of the city due to natural disasters has preserved the vestiges unaltered and in the same environment, without having undergone any change.
The ruins extend over 31.87 ha. To date, 17 colonial structures have been discovered, among which stand out for their social importance: the Cathedral of Santa María de la Gracia, the La Merced church and convent, the Casa de la Fundición (The Foundry), as well as other buildings for housing and civil and military installations. These structures all have a relatively simple shape and are built of tapial.
As León Viejo did not develop, the ruins are a remarkable testimony to the economic and social structures of the Spanish Empire in the 16th century. The site preserves the original layout of the first cities founded by the Spaniards in the New World before the Laws of the Indies. It also testifies to experiments carried out on materials to find those that would be used in future colonial buildings erected in the Americas. (World Heritage Centre #613)
You can find a gallery of additional photos of the Ruins of León Viejo on the World Heritage Centre’s website.
World Heritage Sites are cultural or natural landmarks of international significance, selected by their home countries and recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. More than 1000 such sites have been designated in over 160 countries, and we feature one every Wednesday, drawn from one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week. You can find a complete list of World Heritage Sites online at the World Heritage Centre and in Wikipedia.
The World Heritage Centre also has a free and comprehensive World Heritage education kit for teachers, as well as a wonderful full-color wall map of World Heritage Sites, available for the cost of shipping. Why not add them both to your own homeschool library. 🗺
What world treasures are you exploring in your homeschool this Leo Term? 😊
❡ The great globe itself: This is one of our regular Homeschool Geography posts featuring cultural and natural sites of international importance. Download a copy of our River Houses World Heritage Calendar and follow along with us as we tour the planet, and add your name to our weekly mailing list to get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🌎 🌍 🌏
❡ This is a printable lesson: Down at the bottom of this post you’ll find a custom “Print” button and icon, along with several social-media share buttons. The Print button will let you create a neat and easy-to-read copy of this little lesson, and it will even let you resize or delete elements that you may not want or need (such as images or footnotes). Give it a try today! 🖨
❡ Books in the running brooks: You can always turn to your River Houses almanac, atlas, and history encyclopedia for more information about any of our countries-of-the-week. The almanac has profiles of all the nations of the world on pages 752–859; the endpapers of the atlas are indexes that will show you where all of the individual national and regional maps may be found; the history encyclopedia includes national histories on pages 489–599; and you can find additional illustrations, flags, and other mentions through the indexes in each of these volumes. For an ideal little lesson, just write the name of the Weekly World Heritage Site on your homeschool bulletin board, find its location in your atlas, read the WHC’s brief description aloud, look at a picture or two, and you’re done. Over the course of the year, without even realizing it, your students will absorb a wealth of new historical, geographical, and cultural information. 🇳🇮
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