If you visit only one historical site outside of the city center, make it Las Huellas de Acahualinca (tel. 505/2266-5774, open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., $2).
Modest but intriguing, the site is a simple interpretation center built over the fossilized footprints of Managua ’s earliest known inhabitants who fished Lake Managua 4,000 years before Christ. The prehistoric footprints were found in the last century, four meters below the ground surface.
Once thought to be the prints of people fleeing a volcanic eruption, forensic analysis now shows the walkers were unhurried. The women’s prints are deeper, as they were carrying a heavier load, perhaps the children. The museum’s exhibits on Nahuatl life and the volcanoes of Central America make clear that living in the shadow of imminent volcanic destruction is nothing new in town.
Las Huellas de Acahualinca is a bit out of the way at the northwest end of the city, so call before going, and find a taxi to take you there and back (about $5 an hour; one hour should be enough). The taxi will inevitably drive you through some of Managua’s poorer lakefront neighborhoods, another statement about the continuity of experience in Managua .