Senior Retirement in Granada

Jul 25th, 2011 | By James E Becker | Category: Senior Travel

Many of us remember the old song Managua, Nicaragua, but know nothing about Granada. It’s a city in western Nicaragua, and the capital of the Granada Department. With an estimated population of 110,326 (2003), it is Nicaragua’s fourth most populous city. Granada is historically one of Nicaragua’s most important cities both economically and politically and is the country’s main destination for international travelers.

For centuries, it has been called ‘The Great Sultana’ in recognition of its beautiful colonial architecture. It has a rich colonial heritage, seen in its architecture and layout. It was named by Hernández de Córdoba after the ancient Spanish city of Granada. It is situated on the northwestern shore of Lake Nicaragua. The Mexican poet Francisco de Icaza once said, “There is nothing sadder than being a blind man in Granada” and his words ring true for anyone visiting the magical town that is Granada. It’s a living, breathing museum to the opulence of the old Spanish Empire. As all colonial cities in Central America, Granada is built around its main square (Parque Central) that represents the city’s social, cultural, and economic hub. While you are there do check out these sites that are the “musts” in the city.

Founded in 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, it is one of the first European cities in mainland Americas. Unlike other cities who claim the same, the city of Granada was not only the settlement of the conquest, but also a city registered in official records of the Crown of Aragon and the Kingdom of Castile in Spain. It is the oldest colonial city in Nicaragua and the all-time-rival of Leon. It is located on the north west side of the Lago Cocibolca. Its colored colonial buildings, interesting history and relative safety make it an important tourism destination for seniors. Fly to Managua (the capital of Nicaragua) and from there make your way by bus (every half hour from Mercado Huembes or the La UCA station) or taxi (around $35 from the airport depending on your bargaining skills).

During the colonial period Granada became fabulously rich, its wealth built upon exploitation. Only 20km from the Pacific, the city was a transit point for shipments of gold and other minerals mined throughout the Spanish empire. Today the city of Granada remains the most important and most visited destination in Nicaragua. The colonial architecture of its old center, many museums, galleries, hotels, restaurants, bars and a cosmopolitan ambiance make this city a destination itself. However, it could also be a good starting point to explore the region.

The municipality of Granada is home to the oldest colonial city established on the mainland. Its territory includes lagoons, an archipelago, natural reserves, the Mombacho Volcano and an elongated shoreline in Lake Nicaragua. Its rural area, which includes 17 villages and the Zapatera Island, is known for ecotourism and petroglyphs. Frommer’s will take you there in style with slideshows and lists of their top sites to visit.

Today Granada’s perfectly preserved beauty is all the more surprising considering its tumultuous history of violence and plunder. Back in the 16th and 17th centuries, the city was pillaged by pirates and buccaneers and completely razed by the despot William Walker. So let Lonely Planet top off your planning with lots of rich history to prepare you prior to your arrival.

Here are some reasons to consider living in Granada:

  • Access to health care: Nicaragua tied for 22nd (with Honduras) out of 25 countries on International Living’s Global Retirement Index for health care. In addition to local medical facilities, close proximity to Managua, the capital, gives retirees access to several specialized hospitals.
  • Cost of living: Nicaragua tied for sixth (with Brazil, Malta and Malaysia) on the Global Retirement Index for cost of living. It tied for second (with Colombia) for real estate. A retired American couple can live comfortably in Granada on $1,250 a month. The draw: Rooms with a view.
  • Brightly painted buildings liven up the architecture, and volcanoes are visible in the distance.
  • There are local restaurants, shops and access to freshwater activities.
  • Nearby Managua has shopping malls, movie theaters and other entertainment options.
  • Look into the government’s incentive program for foreign retirees, which offers duty-free imports and other tax breaks. jeb


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