Just 22 km from Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, in the Masaya Volcano National Park you can find what the conquistadors in the 16th century called “The Mouth of Hell.”
The Masaya Volcano National Park includes a 54km area that includes two volcanoes and five craters; Santiago, San Juan, San Pedro, Nindirí and San Fernando. The Santiago crater is the only active with 500 meters in diameter and 300 meters deep. Many are the legends and stories that have been born in these lands, the historian of the Americas “Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo” (1478-1557) tells that the Cacique of Nindirí, told him about an “old witch” who lived inside the volcano and that predicted eruptions, earthquakes, crops and wars.
According to the stories of the time, the communities that surrounded the volcano practiced rites on their slopes and performed sacrificial ceremonies where they threw virgin women and children to please or appease the furies of the gods that manifested themselves with the emanations of gases, ash showers and eruptions It is important to note that “el Masaya” was the first volcano described in Spanish, in America by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba (1475-1526).
A friar named “Francisco de Bobadilla” in 1529 climbed the volcano and convinced that he was in “The Mouth of Hell” he ordered to raise a cross to the end of the crater. The route of the friar today is marked by some 200 steps, the majestic cross was named “La Cruz de Bobadilla” and his goal was to expel the demon from the crater or at least prevent it from leaving in search of human souls to drag to hell. From that moment the penance for many “sinners” was to look out of the crater to see what awaited them if they did not straighten their path. The cross has been in place for more than 500 years and although the present one is a replica of the original, it still causes mystery and inspires a lot of respect.