See the streets of old León, one of the oldest Spanish settlements in the New World, at the ruins of León Viejo. Founded by conquistador Francisco Cordoba in 1524, the lively city was abandoned in 1610, after a huge earthquake caused locals to reassess the town’s precarious location, surrounded by belching volcanoes. It was decided that a new town of León would be built 20 miles west, and León Viejo was left to crumble under falling ash and volcanic stones of Mount Momotombo.
Rediscovered in 1967 by the National University, León Viejo is the only 16th-century, colonial city in the New World that was never developed beyond its original site plan. Its ruins today are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
At the ruins, wander the old city’s three-foot-high remains and see the layout of 16 of the city’s originals structures, including the old plaza, convent, cathedral and fort.