El Salvador is a country of volcanoes and jungles, where all the inhabitants speak Spanish. The ancient Maya civilization was built here, and archaeologists continue to find valuable evidence of their life every year. The Salvadorans themselves diligently protect their nature and the traditions of the Indian tribes.
Who and why goes to El Salvador
El Salvador is valuable for its deep past — mainly the ancient civilization of the Indians, after which cities, villages and pyramids remained. Lovers of antiquity, culture and customs of the Indian tribes will have the opportunity to get to know all this better.
National parks, reserves, volcanoes and lakes will open to visitors the diversity of animals, birds and plants of Central America. And lovers of scuba diving will find entertainment to their liking on the 150-kilometer Pacific coast.
Volcano San Miguel
The volcano with a height of more than 2 km is located in the east of El Salvador and is the third highest within the state. Its local name is Chaparrastic. At the foot of the mountain lies the city of San Miguel, famous for its criminal gangs.
San Miguel is an active volcano, as 26 eruptions have been recorded over the past three hundred years of observation. The strongest of them occurred in 1787, and the last time the volcano woke up in 2013. The government does not recommend tourists to approach the summit of San Miguel, but there are hiking trails at the foot of the mountain.
Lago de Gija was formed by a volcanic eruption in the 5th century AD. Scientists believe that the lake appeared due to a volcanic lava flow that blocked the Ostua channel. As a result, the river, originating in the territory of Guatemala, flooded the valley and formed a lake with an area of 45 square kilometers.
Gulf of Fonseca
Fonseca is located along the coasts of three countries in South America, and its length is 3200 km. In 1522, the Spanish traveler-conquistador Gil Gonzalez de Avila discovered the water area, dedicating the find to the main enemy of Christopher Columbus, Archbishop Juan Fonseca.
The territorial affiliation of the bay was disputed until the end of the last century. Thanks to the intervention of the International Court of Justice, the bay was finally divided between El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras. By the way, there are two volcanoes on its shores — Conchagua and Cosiguina.
This lake also owes its appearance to a volcanic eruption that occurred in the 5th century. Its length is 72 km, and the average depth is 248 meters. Ilopango is surrounded by rocky shores up to 500 meters high, but it is quite a suitable place for diving, water skiing, sailing, kayaking and windsurfing.
Hot springs keep the water at a pleasant temperature. Nearby restaurants offer diners to admire the untouched scenery while enjoying fine cuisine. And the military airbase at Ilopango International Airport hosts an annual air show where pilots demonstrate their skills over the lake.
Los Cabanos beach
The most visited beach by tourists is located in the western part of El Salvador. There is also a long colorful reef here, which is why the place is so popular among diving enthusiasts. The length of the reef is as much as 157 km. Also under the water are the remains of sunken ships.
The picturesque beach of volcanic origin with white sand and stones is striking in its beauty. On its territory there is a turtle nursery. Tourists here watch the tiny turtles that go to the ocean for the first time.
Lake Coatepec is a picturesque water mirror surrounded by wooded hills in the west of El Salvador. The volcanic caldera formed after a series of eruptions. And until now, the volcano remains active, although it is considered dormant.
In the southwest corner of the lake is Theopan Island, once a sacred Mayan site. Further southwest is Cerro Verde National Park. The towering Santa Ana Volcano and the conical Izalco Volcano offer panoramic views of the lake.
Coatepeque is recognized as the largest lake in El Salvador. Its area is 26 km2. Tourists conquer its rocky shores or opt for a leisurely boat ride.
Santa Ana Volcano
Towering at 2381 m, the Santa Ana volcano is young and picturesque. Its crater is a major tourist attraction in El Salvador. Located on the territory of the Cerro Verde National Park, the volcano is also interesting because it erupted for the last time not so long ago — in 2005. The force of the eruption was such that stones the size of a car flew from the top.
A bus leaves from the city to the foot of the volcano every morning. You can get to the place, climb to the top and return home in a day. The climb itself takes an hour.
Parks of Salvador
Cerro Verde National Park
Cerro Verde is part of the Los Vulcanes-Salvador National Park. The park itself is a crater of an extinct volcano 2 km above sea level. It is so washed out by time that its edges can easily be confused with a green hill. More than 125 different tree species have been recorded in the park’s cloud forests.
On the territory of Cerro Verde, many species of marsh plants, orchids, herbs, and agaves grow. The fauna is represented by coyotes, foxes, deer, rare birds and reptiles. Animals and birds are looked after, observed and, of course, shown to tourists.
El Boqueron National Park is located on the top of a volcano, at an altitude of 1800 meters. Its main attraction is a crater with a diameter of 5 kilometers and a depth of 558 meters. The mountain peaks surrounding the reserve are covered with wild flowers.
The park has short hiking trails along the edge of the crater. Tourists choose a picturesque place for day trips, since it is located next to San Salvador — just half an hour away.
Thanks to the temperate climate, the park has become home to rare plants and animals. Armadillos, raccoons, deer, foxes live here. The main goal of visiting El Boqueron is the impressive views of San Salvador, the distant lakes of Ilopango and the Izalco volcano.
The park is named after a dangerous gorge, the edges of which are connected by a bridge. Every year, El Imposible welcomes thousands of tourists. Here visitors will find 500 species of plants, 100 mammals, fifty species of amphibians and reptiles, 285 birds and 5,000 species of butterflies.
Patient wildlife watchers will get the chance to photograph cougars, wild boars, antelopes and anteaters. And adventure seekers are offered extreme hiking between the steep slopes of the gorge, along stormy rivers and forests.
Historical landmarks and architecture
Hoya de Seren
An archaeological site that has survived to this day is a Maya village of pre-Columbian times, engaged in farming. Ash from the eruption of the Loma volcano covered it with a thick layer, mothballing houses for centuries. Therefore, Hoya de Seren is called the Pompeii of South America. The Mayan village is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Church of El Rosario
The Art Nouveau Catholic Church was built in the old part of the capital San Salvador. The church does not look like a religious building — more like a hangar for storing vegetables. The concrete structure is crowned with a semicircular roof. The building was built on the site of the Cathedral of San Salvador, destroyed in the earthquake of 1855. The main shrines were saved and transferred to the Church of the Holy Conception.
For a hundred years, the cathedral ground was empty, but in 1962, the Dominican monks commissioned architect Ruben Martinez to draw up a project for a new church. After the approval of the project by the Vatican, the construction of the shrine began. Religious sculptures and colored stained-glass windows were used for interior decoration.
San Andres Salvador
Another archaeological site of the pre-Columbian era. This ancient city was founded by the Maya in 900 BC, but due to a volcanic eruption in 250 AD. they had to leave the settlement. Later, in the 5th century, San Andres revived again, and after 100 years it gained great importance due to trade relations with other Mayan cities.
By the end of the 9th century, it lost its political weight, and the volcanic eruption in 1658 buried it under a layer of ash, but allowed the buildings to remain in their original form.
Church of Gonchagua (Conchagua Church)
This church was built in 1693 in honor of the Apostle Santiago according to the project of Vaclav Ramírez and Antonio Garcia, who used Baroque elements on the facade and Renaissance style in the interior. The architectural gem was built using adobe blocks, stones and brickwork.
Exquisite woods were used in the interior decoration of the temple. The central nave of the church consists of 14 columns — 7 on each side. Columns adorn the temple and support the roof frame.
It houses 15 original religious images brought by the Spaniards to America 300 years ago. The images are located in a wooden altar on the sides of the nave. Another colonial element is a church bell weighing 10 kilograms. In clear weather, it is visible even from the central park.
An archaeological site was discovered in the town of Calchuape. Excavations here began in 1940 by Stanley Boggs — thanks to the work of the professor, tourists can now get a complete picture of what the daily life of the Mayan civilization looked like.
According to archaeologists, Tasumal was founded in 5000 BC. e. Its name in translation means «pyramid where the victims are burned.» Artifacts found here give reason to consider Tasumal a center of trade. The ruins of tombs, palaces and ritual objects remained on its territory. It is the largest such object preserved in El Salvador.
A small picturesque town located in the central part of the country next to the volcanic part of the Cordillera. It was founded in the 16th century by the Spanish conquistadors. They say that Pedro de Alvarada was surprised by the beauty of this place and decided to build a settlement here.
Thanks to its distinctive culture, Apaneca is of great interest to tourists. The town has the church of St. Andrew, the ancient settlement of Santa Leticia, as well as the volcanic lakes of Laguna Verde and Las Ninfas.
The capital of El Salvador, located in the central part of the plateau. San Salvador means Holy Savior in Spanish. It is the second largest city in Central America. Despite this, a calm atmosphere and a measured rhythm of life reign here.
The city is so well located that tourists stop in the vicinity. Here, majestic volcanoes and a fantastic crater lake give way to the country’s largest parks.
San Salvador is located in the center, so the road to each attraction takes a maximum of four hours. This makes the city a starting point for exploring El Salvador.
The city was founded in 1708 and still retains the beauty of the architecture of a bygone era. The streets are full of friendly, open people. The central square is of considerable interest to visitors. Nearby is the National Theater and the Cathedral of Santa Ana.
After a city tour, it is worth taking a walk through the picturesque surroundings of the city. Lake Coatepec touches the shores of the neighborhoods of wealthy residents. And around Santa Ana itself, three volcanic peaks rise. The nearby national parks and reserves will also please the eye with the luxurious greenery of the forests.
City of Suchitoto
Suchitoto is located 50 km northeast of the capital San Salvador. It is a former colonial city and the cultural center of the country. Art and food festivals are held here all the time, filling the roads with numerous guests.
Enjoy a walk along the cobbled streets of the city, see the fantastic and preserved Spanish colonial buildings to this day. Or take a walk around the area to find picturesque waterfalls and caves.
The largest settlement of the pre-Columbian era is located in the south of the region, where the cultural centers of the Maya are concentrated. It is worth noting that the tribes came here in the late, classical period. This was the reason why today archaeologists find a large number of ruins.
The historical period also influenced the nature of the buildings, which are strikingly different from the early Indian settlements. The most interesting of them are found in the Western part of the city.
This issue contains the remains of the Mayan pyramids, the beaches and reefs of the Pacific Ocean, the picturesque natural parks and volcanoes of El Salvador.