León, of its full name Santiago of los Caballeros de León, is situated in approximately 80 km northwest from Managua, and in approximately 17 km in the North of the Pacific Ocean coast. The first city of León, called Leon Viejo, was founded in 1523 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba in approximately 30 km east of the current site; ruined repeatedly by eruptions of the volcano Momotombo, it was then moved on its current site in 1610, which was previously an ethnic city called Sutiava. The architecture of the city, built ex-nihilo, is of colonial inspiration. Among the worthwhile buildings, besides the colored and very typical houses or the site of the ‘fort of Powder’, we can also quote the big Cathedral of the Assumption, built from 1706 till 1740, with two towers added in 1746 and 1779, classified on the list of the UNESCO world heritage. This cathedral illustrates the transition between the baroque style and the neo-classic architecture. The quality of its construction allowed it to survive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions which followed one another for the XVIIIth century. In 1813, a first university was founded in Leon. When Nicaragua acquires its independence in 1839, León, preferred by the liberals, becomes the capital of the new State, in alternation with Granada, the latter being preferred by the conservative regimes. In 1858, to put an end to these quarrels, Managua, geographically situated between these two cities, becomes the new capital.
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