Nicaragua Travel Guide:
Masaya National Park
Masaya National Park includes two cones and five craters all set within a massive ancient crater.
The main cone, Masaya Volcano, is one of the most active in the Americas–one of just four in the world that maintains a constant pool of lava in its open crater. A road takes you to the lip of the crater, crossing solidified lava from a flow in 1772.
The Chorotega people called Masaya ‘burning mountain’ and are said to have made sacrifices of young women and boys to appease a goddess of fire. Spanish christians thought the volcano’s magma was a door to hell and so erected a cross at the crater’s edge, a replacement can be seen today.
Around the park are whitewashed villages known as Los Pueblos Blancos, the inhabitants of which are descendents of the Chorotega.
Their region has a strong indigenous identity and is considered the cradle of Nicaraguan tradition, folklore and crafts. Each village specialises in a different handicraft, such as pottery, hammock-making, leatherwork, basket-making and woodwork, all of which can be found at Masaya’s market.
On Thursday nights traditional musicians and folk dancers give enthusiastically-attended performances on a stage by the market–a great opportunity to spend time among local families on an evening out.
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