Madriz Department, Nicaragua

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Madriz Department in the north of Nicaragua

Madriz is a small department located in the north of Nicaragua, about 217 kilometers from the capital Managua.

The department of Madriz is known for its wealth of natural resources, gastronomy, hospitality of its people and recently for having the Somoto Canyon, a tourist attraction that does not need much introduction.

Through this department is the border post El Espino, so the municipalities of Madriz also operate as the last tourist destination for visitors who will soon travel to Honduras.

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The Population of Madriz Department

The last population census of the department of Madriz indicates that there are approximately 132,459 people living in the department. The census dates back to 2005, so it is possible that this number has changed in the last decades.

The people of the department of Madriz are known for their friendliness and hospitality. Despite the fact that the department is home to two of the poorest towns in Nicaragua, the people still identify themselves as very generous, honest and charitable.

In addition, it is very common for the communities and municipalities of the department of Madriz to be very quiet.

Visually, the hills and the green vegetation predominate, as well as the adobe houses with tile roofs.

The people of Madriz are hospitable, artistically inspired, proud of their traditions, industrious from early morning, because the artisans of the donuts get up to make the production that brings fame to the department and it is a proud reference of quality to say that the donuts are from Somoto, giving it a denomination of origin.

Climate of Madriz

The climate of the department of Madriz is tropical savannah. However, temperatures can vary from one municipality to another depending on the altitude.

Being located in the north of Nicaragua, Madriz has a pleasant and cool climate, since the vegetation and the relief of this area allows the area to cool down, reducing the heat.

It is important to mention that there are months when the heat rises a lot, but in most of the year, the climate is quite pleasant.

Relief

The relief of the department of Madriz is quite varied. Towards the southwest extends the mountain range of Tepesomoto, elongated row of high peaks that has as culminating points the so-called Somoto volcano (1730 m), Patasta (1736 m, the highest of the department), Arenal (1625 m) and El Horno (1535 m); in them the humidity and the height favor the cultivation of coffee.

Between this line and the Honduran border there are extensive flat summits such as Moropoto, Miguisle, Asanda, Bilocaguasca and Alaupe. In the bottom of them circulates the Tapacalí river that joins the Comalí, coming from Honduras, to form the Coco or Segovia river very close to the Aduana del Espino.

These reliefs originated from the ancient volcanism that took place in the center of the country during the Tertiary Era, where the topography was later fractured and raised in blocks, as revealed by the extensive lava plates and cliffs of basalt and andesite that crown the plateaus and the presence of pointed hills such as the Somoto volcano.

To the north, on either side of the Coco or Segovia River, are the dry plains of Somoto and Palacaguina, through which the CA-1 or Panamerican Highway opens its way. The hills Quisuca (1245 m) and Musunse (1345 m) stand out near Totogalpa. The reddish rocks (conglomerates) in the surroundings of this population were sedimented in very ancient times, at the bottom of a lake now dried up.

 

Flora and Fauna of the Department of Madriz

Flora

The predominant flora of the area is composed of a variety of major plants such as oak and pine, among the main species are tempisque, quebracho, charcoal, black wood and cedar (in very small quantities).

The presence of scrub and grasses is evident. In some areas the concentration of flora is dense and in others it is not very dense, as a result of the deterioration caused by the settlers in their interest to prepare areas for traditional crops.

The types of forest found in Madriz are:

  • Broadleaf: Trees up to 30 meters high; deciduous and evergreen vegetation, multilayered, with one or more strata (shrub and herbaceous).
  • Closed broadleaf: Native vegetation that reaches heights between 20 and 40 meters, with density and canopy cover greater than 70%.
  • Open broadleaf: Native vegetation with trees between 20 and 40 meters high, with crown cover density between 40% and 70%.
  • Gallery forest: Arboreal vegetation that develops on the banks of bodies of water and serves to protect the watersheds.

Fauna

The fauna in the department of Madriz is mostly composed of deer, rabbits, squirrels, squirrels, cusucos, guatusas, agoutis, garrobos, pigeons, vultures, stilts and magpies.

Protected Areas in the Department of Madriz:

Somoto Canyon:

It is located in the central-north region in the Somoto municipality of the Madriz department. It has an area of 170.3 hectares. The protected area was declared through Law 605, published in La Gaceta No. 240 on December 12, 2006.

Tepesomoto - La Patasta Natural Reserve

It is located in the central-north region between the municipalities of San Lucas, Somoto and Las Sabanas in the department of Madriz and the municipalities of Pueblo Nuevo and San Juan de Limay in the department of Estelí. It covers an area of 10,069 hectares. The area was declared through Decree 42-91, published in La Gaceta on November 4, 1991.

Boundaries of Madriz Department

  • To the north with the Department of Nueva Segovia.
  • To the south with the departments of Esteli and Chinandega.
  • To the East with the Department of Jinotega.
  • To the West with Honduras

Economic Activities of the Department of Madriz

The population of the department of Madriz is characterized by the production of basic grains such as corn, coffee, bananas, rice, tobacco, sisal, beans, sorghum, among other basic grains.

Part of the population of Madriz is dedicated to cattle raising and the production of foodstuffs from milk.

Apart from this, construction materials such as bricks and clay tiles are also produced. Another economic activity for which the department of Madriz is known is the production of donuts and similar products such as puff pastries, marzipan, rosquetes and more.

The unemployment rate in Madriz is very high.

Gastronomy of the Department of Madriz

The gastronomy of Madriz is based on corn, and bases all its fame on "Las Rosquillas".

In addition, in Madriz are also famous the nacatamales, stews of mustard izote flower, paita and purslane, Indian chicken steamed in milk, ayote seed soup, Indian chicken soup, baby corn tamale, corn tortilla cipe, gallo pinto, and others.

Typical beverages of the department of Madriz include: natural frescos with tropical fruits, jicaro seed, fermented corn chicha, barley fresco, ayote seed horchata, pinolillo and pinol.

Madriz Traditions

In Madriz there are a series of traditions in which the inhabitants of the department and travelers from all over Nicaragua and neighboring countries participate.

Every 8th of every month, hundreds of people travel to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Cacaulí. Cacaulí is a small town located three kilometers from the urban center of Somoto.

Also, many people join the celebrations of the Day of the Holy Cross every May 3, and the respective patron saint festivities in each of the municipalities of the department of Madriz.

These festivities take place on:

  • July 25, the municipality of Somoto celebrates the patron saint festivities in honor of Santiago Apostle.
  • On June 24 and August 4, Telpaneca celebrates its patron saint festivities in honor of its patron saint San Juan Bautista and Santo Domingo.
  • On June 24, the municipality of San Juan del Río Coco celebrates its patron saint San Juan Evangelista.
  • On August 2, the municipality of San José de Cusmapa celebrates its patron saint Maria Reyna de los Angeles.
  • The municipality of Yalagüina, is characterized by the celebration of the patron saint's day being its main day on July 26 in honor of Santa Ana and on November 28 the traditional festivities in the community of La Esperanza, in honor of the Virgen de la Concepción.
  • On August 22, the patron saint festivities of the municipality in honor of María Reina are celebrated in the municipality of Palacagüina.
  • September 8, the municipality of Totogalpa celebrates its patron saint, the Virgen de la Merced.
  • October 18, the municipality of San Lucas celebrates its patron saint San Lucas.
  • November 27, the anniversary of the promotion of the town of Palacagüina to city status is celebrated.
  • November 11th, the creation of the Department of Madriz is celebrated.

How to get to the Department of Madriz?

Getting to the department of Madriz is very simple.

If you are traveling by bus from Managua, you must board a bus at COTRAN Mayoreo to Somoto. Buses start leaving at 5:30 AM.

If you are traveling from the department of Leon, you can take the minibuses or buses that leave from the terminal to Esteli. Then in Esteli you can board a second bus on the COTRAN north bound for Somoto that crosses Palacagüina and Yalagüina. You can also take the bus that goes to Ocotal, which also passes through some municipalities of the department of Madriz.

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Municipalities of the Department of Madriz

These are the municipalities that make up the department of Madriz:

  • Municipio de Somoto
  • Totogalpa
  • Palacagüina
  • Yalagüina
  • San Juan del Río Coco
  • San Lucas
  • San Jose de Cusmapa
  • Telpaneca
  • Las Sabanas

Map of Madriz Department

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Tourist Places in the Madriz Department

The northern department of Madriz has several natural and cultural attractions in its medium-sized territory, composed of high valleys interrupted by mountains where cool temperatures prevail.

In the region it is possible to visit interesting geological formations, pine forests or nebliselva, rivers of good flow, coffee farms and other crops, as well as small but very active craft workshops of decorative and gastronomic products.

The city of Somoto and the municipality of Totogalpa have two of the oldest churches in Nicaragua, as reported by Bishop Morel de Santa Cruz when he passed through there in 1752. These churches have been preserved over time and recently named cultural patrimony of Nicaragua.

This is a complete list of tourist sites in the department of Madriz that you must visit:

#1. Cusmapa viewpoint
#2. La Bruja Lagoon, Las Sábanas
#3. Rafael Maria Fabretto Cooperative
#4. Loma de Panda Artisan's Cooperative
#5. Taller de Artesanías de Tusa
#6. Quibuto Hill
#7. Malacate Hill
#8. Waterfall of the Grotto of the Virgin of Lourdes
#9. El Balcon viewpoint
#10. La Reseda Lagoon
#11. Laguna la Bruja
#12. Piedras Pintadas Municipal Ecological Park
#13. Tepesomoto Natural Reserve - La Patasta
#14. Environmental Interpretation Center, Somoto
#15. Somoto Canyon
#16. Virgin's Grotto, Telpaneca
#17. Doughnut workshops, Somoto and Yalagüina.
#18. Miguel Angel Ortez Park, Palacagüina
#19. Handicrafts of Tule and Tuza, Totogalpa
#20. Central Park and Santiago Apostle Church, Somoto

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History of the Department of Madriz

The department of Madriz has important archaeological sites, especially Icalupe, northwest of Somoto. This indicates the presence of people in pre-Columbian times.

In this place (Icalupe) you can appreciate polychromatic petroglyphs that according to experts may have been created between the years 600 and 800 of our era. However, this area is recognized as a place of transit and not residence of the tribes, and eventually the entrance of the Spanish conquistadors could have started here in their journey through the isthmus, guided by indigenous people who supported them.

Its first settlers were Chorotega ethnic groups that arrived through the Choluteca and Guasaule rivers.

The Aztec traders called it Tepesomoto because of a mountain near the town where there was an exotic bird called Xomontli. It has three outstanding natural resources: the Tepesomoto - Pataste hill, the Somoto canyon and the Coco or Segovia or Wangki river as the Sumos or Mayagnas call it.

The Spaniards finally populated the city today called "Santiago de Tepesomoto" according to royal decrees of 1591, and other territories today called municipalities where our ancestors were settled as Telpaneca (Litelpaneca Thelpaneca), Totogalpa, Yalagüina, Palacagüina and San Lucas.

During the colonial and post-independence period, the region of the department of Madriz belonged to Nueva Segovia.

The region was formerly part of the extensive department of Nueva Segovia, from which it was segregated in 1936, adopting the name of the illustrious president José Madriz and taking Somoto as the departmental capital. In the past decades its development was favored by the passage of the Pan-American Highway to Honduras.

 

The Department of Madriz Today

Madriz is a small department that usually goes unnoticed by tourists. However, it is a place well worth visiting.

Here you will find an adventure in nature, discover wonderful traditions and taste an excellent variety of food and drinks typical of the region.

Don't hesitate to visit the different towns and municipalities of this department in the north of Nicaragua; explore it today.

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