Two blocks east of the Parque Central sits the Mercado Viejo, which has been converted into the grandly named Centro Cultural (Antiguo Mercado de Masaya) – Mercado Nacional de Artesanía. Behind the large, fortress-style walls lies a complex network of stalls selling paintings, many in the naïf-art tradition of the Solentiname archipelago, as well as large, excellent-quality hammocks, carved wooden bowls, utensils and animals, simple wood-and-bead jewellery, cotton shirts, straw hats and leather bags and purses. It’s a fun place for a potter even if you’re not going to buy anything – safe, not too hustly and dotted with drinks stalls and restaurants. The weekly Jueves de Verbena party night takes place here too. Check out the giant wall map of the country, which shows the places in Nicaragua where crafts are produced. If your Spanish is up to it, ask about visiting artisans at work in their homes and workshops. Many of the crafts on sale come from designs that originated in the indigenous barrio of Monimbó, fifteen minutes’ walk south of the market, where you’ll find more produce on sale around Iglesia de San Sebastián.

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