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Barrio Sutiava

Barrio Sutiava, an indigenous stronghold, predates the rest of Leon. Members of the Chorotega tribe founded the original town and lived beside the Spanish Leon until their new neighbors forced them to become part of the new city. A Chorotega revolt in 1725 was put down, but the area known as “Subtiava” was able to retain a relative independence from the growing metropolis until 1902. 

The neighborhood’s heavily indigenous population recently decided to change the name from the former Subtiava, since they felt the former spelling was derogatory, according to the tourism office in Leon.  

The neighborhood has attractions such as San Juan Bautista Sutiava, the oldest church in Leon, and Museo Adiacto, a museum that opened in 1979 and features pieces that track the history of the neighborhood, including ceramics and stonework. 


During the Good Friday of Semana Santa, residents of the neighborhood make religious murals out of colored sawdust. The designs are created freehand and range in crude Jesus portraits to sweeping, sunset colored images of angels in flight. A procession baring religious statues, eventually walks across these passion carpets and wipes them out. The tradition is ancient and may have originated with laying carpets of flowers before local kinds, although modern themes are Biblically inspired.

Other neighborhoods in Leon: Poneloya and Barrio Guadalupe.

By Rachael Hanley
A sometime newspaper journalist with a heavy side of wanderlust, Rachael moved to Quito in November to work on the V!VA staff. She is currently...
08 Oct 2009

Things to do in Barrio Sutiava

Iglesia San Juan Bautista de Subtiava

In many ways, this is a typical Central American cathedral. It's spacious, elegant, beautifully designed, and badly in need of restoration. The wooden altar-piece is probably the church's most ...
Historical Building
Barrio Sutiava, Leon, Nicaragua

Ruinas Veracruz

Another casualty of the 1979 bombardment, these are probably the most impressive, intact ruins in Leon. The most likely reason for this is that they have been fenced-off, preventing people from ...
Barrio Sutiava, Leon, Nicaragua

El Tamarindon

This ancient tamarind tree, located in the winding sidestreets of Barrio Subtiava, is said to be over 600 years old. Its most famous moment came in the late 18th century, when Chief Adiact, leader of ...
Historical Building
Barrio Sutiava, Leon, Nicaragua

Museo Adiact

Part archaeological museum and part indigenous art gallery, the Museo Adiact is easily spotted by the ornate murals adorning its walls. It features contemporary primitivist art, as well as a few ...
Barrio Sutiava, Leon, Nicaragua

Museo de Arte Sacro

The Museo de Arte Sacro is a beautiful collection of religious art which, at time of review (May 2008), was in the middle of moving to a new location. There's nothing to see in the old building, ...
Barrio Sutiava, Leon, Nicaragua

Ruinas de Santiago

These are the least impressive of Leon's ruins. Only a single bell tower and a pockmarked wall remain of the original church. Enter through an unlocked gate about halfway between Calle Ruben Dario ...
Barrio Sutiava, Leon, Nicaragua
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