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San Juan De Nicaragua

San Juan de Nicaragua, formerly (and illogically) known as San Juan del Norte, is a small backwater and pretty much the end of the line of any trip down the Río San Juan. It is less so now, since there are regular boat connections to Bluefields and to Costa Rica, but the few houses scattered by the Río Indio retain little of the former strategic port's energy.

San Juan del Norte was christened on June 24, 1539 and a small garrison was installed there in 1541 by the Spanish. But the settlement which controlled entry to the strategic Río San Juan was captured by the British and their Miskito allies. The Spanish were able to establish a commercial presence here in 1778, but the British once again seized San Juan in 1841, when it looked like the Río San Juan would be opening to large-scale commercial transport from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean. In 1848, the governor of Jamaica, Charles Grey, even renamed the port Greytown, after himself. In the following years, Greytown boomed, as it turned into a terminal for the newly formed American Atlantic and Pacific Ship Canal Company, which ferried thousands of gold seekers to California. Hotels, restaurants, as well as embassies, bordellos and other businesses popped up in what became a bustling Victorian town.

As plans grew hotter for an inter-ocean canal, important work was undertaken: telegraph lines went up, the lagunas were dredged, several miles of train tracks were built and new piers stretched out. In the end, Panama won as the eventual location of the major canal link in 1903. As a result, works in Greytown came to a halt, boats stopped coming to the bay, the steel from the tracks was taken apart and sold, and the town slipped back into obscurity.

During the civil war in the 1980s, the town was razed by the Contras, and what was rebuilt was flattened by Hurricane Joan. Eventually, San Juan del Norte was rebuilt in 1990.  However, the  new location is few kilometers from the original site.  It can now be found by the river Indio.  The town has since been renamed San Juan de Nicaragua.



Other places nearby San Juan De Nicaragua: San Miguelito, Refugio Bartola, Islas Solentiname, El Castillo, San Carlos and Boca De Sábalos.

By Andrea Davoust
After more than two years of working and living out of a suitcase in Eastern Europe and in various improbable African countries that no-one has ever...
08 Dec 2009

Things to do in San Juan De Nicaragua


136151The few remains of the once thriving port of Greytown, now buried in the jungle, lie just a 15-minute boat ride from town. All that is left standing are a couple of concrete foundations of colonial ...
San Juan De Nicaragua, Nicaragua

Laguna Azul

136152Just across the river from San Juan is a small and very pleasant freshwater lake surrounded by low vegetation. If you get someone to take you there for a few dollars, you can spend a couple of hours ...
San Juan De Nicaragua, Nicaragua

Río Indio

If you take a river trip up the Río Indio, you can get a glimpse of wildlife in the eastern reaches of the Reserva Indio Maiz. A tour can take you through lagunas up the river to basaltic rock ...
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San Juan De Nicaragua, Nicaragua
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