In July of 1502 on his fourth and final voyage, Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón in Spanish) skirted Nicaragua’s Mosquito Coast, then continued on to South America. Seventeen years later, the conquistador Pedro Arias Dávila returned under orders from the Spanish crown to explore the land bridge of Nicaragua.
Indigenous leaders Nicarao and Diriangén engaged them in a brief battle. But irregardless, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba arrived soon after to establish Spain’s first settlements in the new land.
Córdoba settled Granada  alongside the Chorotega communities on the banks of Lake Cocibolca, and forging farther inland and up the Tipitapa River, the settlement of León  on the western shores of Lake Xolotlán. Nicaragua remained a part of Spain’s overseas possessions for the next 300 years under the governance of the colonial capital in Guatemala.