Managua, Nicaragua, is the country's large, sprawling, low-built and chaotic capital, which never quite recovered from the devastating earthquake of 1972 (80% of its buildings were destroyed). Today, it is a low-rise town that sprawls over a huge area, with many sections in ruins or abandoned. Most travelers skip Managua and head straight to Granada.

There is little sense of cohesion to Managua. Modern construction has concentrated along the Carretera Masaya, on the south side of the city. The middle-class Los Robles, with a smattering of fine restaurants, boutique hotels, modern shopping malls and small shops, is now considered the city center. The city has experienced a development boom that pumped life into its Zona Rosa commercial district and improved some of its basic infrastructure.

Limited revitalization projects were undertaken in the early 1990s when Arnoldo Aleman (the discredited president) served as mayor. One of them was the cathedral, with its bubbled roof and pink-and-purple dome architecture. Other sights of interest include what remains of the city's early colonial architecture, concentrated around Plaza de la Republica, near the shore of Lake Nicaragua.

Several shopping centers and markets are located in the newer sections of town. For local handicrafts, go to the artisenia market at Roberto Huembes Mercado.

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