Image by Holger Leue Getty
One of the oldest churches in Central America, Convento San Francisco boasts a robin's egg–blue birthday-cake facade and houses both an important convent and one of the best museums in the region. The highlight is the museum that focuses on Nicaragua's pre-Columbian people. Don't miss the Zapatera statuary, two solemn regiments of black-basalt statues, carved between AD 800 and 1200, then left behind on the ritual island of Zapatera.
The museum is through the small door on the left, where guides (some of whom speak English) are available for tours; tips are appreciated. Other museum highlights include top-notch primitivist art, a scale model of the city and a group of papier-mâché indigenous people cooking, relaxing in hammocks and swinging on comelazatoaztegams, a sort of 360-degree see-saw.
Most of the Isla Zapatera statues were discovered in the late 1880s and gathered in Granada in the 1920s.
The convent itself was originally constructed in 1585, subsequently burned to the ground by pirates and later William Walker, rebuilt in 1868 and restored in 1989.