History in San Juan del Sur

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The history of San Juan del Sur can be traced back at least 450 years. Today San Juan del Sur is recognized as “Nicaragua’s tourist port,” but that was a long time in the making. San Juan del Sur History shows us that its geographical location has made it a major player in the trade, communication, and tourism industry.

Town Name

San Juan del Sur has changed its name at least 4 times. During the second part of the 16th century, San Juan del Sur was known as The Port of San Juan del Sur in the Southern Sea, but that name didn’t stick. During the 19th century, the name of the town changed at least 3 times. The 3 names that have been documented from the 19th century are Port of Independence, San Juan of the Concordance, and Pineda City. It wasn’t until 2002 that the Port of San Juan del Sur gained its official city status, this also happened to be the year of its 150th anniversary.


San Juan del Sur played an important part in the conflict that raged between the Nicaraguans and the U.S. filibusters. The first major role it played was in the local battle that led to the ousting of Chief Director Laureano Pineda. Later on, it was the sight of several other battles in the National War, which were all about battles against the troops that were led by William Walker.

Communication Center

San Juan del Sur was also an important communications center during the late 1800s. During 1876, telegraphic service began between San Juan del Sur and the Port of Corinto. Six years after that submarine cable installment opened the communication between San Juan del Sur and the rest of the world. In 1928, a train route was established between San Juan del Sur and San Jorge, was an important step for opening up a direct link between this coastal town and the rest of the country.

Gold Rush

During the Gold Rush, San Juan del Sur played an important part of the transit route. Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt created a transit route to help make the trip between New York and California faster, this route included sections that were traveled by steamboat, foot, mule, and stagecoach. The travelers going from New York to California crossed the isthmus between San Juan del Sur and San Juan del Norte, which on average took about 20 hours. Crossing the isthmus cut down the total travel time from 6 months to less than 1 month.


Although the city of San Juan del Sur now relies heavily on tourism for its economy, the town used to rely on the sea. San Juan del Sur was originally a little fishing village, but has grown greatly over the years. Even though the town is growing to handle the tourism, it is basing all of the new development around the original wooden houses of the area. This helps give San Juan del Sur its charm, but also keeps its history alive.

March 04, 2010 change by shomer

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