Managua is growing fast. The city's older tree-lined avenues soon give way to networks of new highways, office blocks, shopping malls, busy streets and markets.
Although the city is humming with the hectic business of getting on with today, its recent history is never far from mind. From Tiscapa volcano a striking 59ft silhouette of Sandino placed on the ruins of Samoza's presidential palace guards the city below.
The ruins of Managua's cathedral are preserved as a monument to the Christmas Eve earthquake of 1972 which killed 6,000 and left 300,000 homeless, while the architecture of the new cathedral still provokes controversy. An eternal flame burns at the memorial to Carlos Fonseca, second only to Che Guevara in the pantheon of 1960s revolutionaries.
Culturally, Managua is very strong, especially in its artists and poets. Many combine a deep love of their country with strong commitment to social justice - and a general cynicism about Nicaragua's current politics.
The 'Footprints of Achualinca', a 6,000 year old archaeological site, shows clear footprints left by a stone-age family as they crossed ancient mud flats, one of the most direct and evocative links to our ancestors.