Directly behind the landmark Crowne Plaza, you can get some perspective on both Managua’s dramatic history and its weird, battered cityscape in the Loma de Tiscapa, or Tiscapa Historical National Park. The fifteen-minute walk up the hill takes you via a series of posters detailing the rise and fall of Somoza’s National Guard, then past the elegant white pillars of the Monumento Roosevelt and a decapitated statue of Justice before winding round and up to a silhouetted statue of Sandino. Nearby lie a tank and statue donated to Somoza by Mussolini. Photos detail the disastrous earthquakes of 1931 and 1972, while a display in the tunnels of the former prison goes into gory details of Somoza’s infamous noches de tortura (torture nights).
The views of the city from here are excellent, stretching north to Lago de Nicaragua and the distant volcanoes and south beyond the new cathedral towards Masaya. Adventurous types can enjoy them on a so-called canopy tour from the top of the hill. Three cables cover more than 1km, allowing you to glide high above the city and the picturesque – but polluted – Laguna Tiscapa, which sits below the Loma de Tiscapa’s summit.