Managua ’s most iconic and evocative landmark, the Catedral Santiago de los Caballeros in the Plaza de la Rvolución , had barely been completed when the earthquake of 1931 struck. It survived relatively unscathed that time, but was all but destroyed by the 1972 earthquake that leveled Managua.
Still standing but structurally unsound, the Ruinas de la Catedral Vieja (as it is now known) are a poignant testimonial to the destruction caused by the quake. Until the late 1990s, the ruins of the cathedral were open to visitors, but due to continued structural degradation, it is no longer safe. You can still peer in, however, to appreciate its ravaged, sunlit interior—do so before the next quake finishes what the quake of ’72 started.
Across the street, heading toward the lake, the lavishly decorated and brightly painted Casa Presidencial was built in 1999 by former president Arnoldo Alemán despite popular outrage over the unjustifiable expense in Hurricane Mitch’s aftermath. President Ortega turned it into “the people’s house.”