You have only to step into one of the numerous artisan markets scattered around the area to realize that Masaya and the surrounding towns rule supreme when it comes to Nicaraguan arts and crafts. Furniture, pottery, food, gardening, there is no end to the list of areas in which locals have placed their own unique stamp. That Masaya and the neighboring towns are home to so much culture and individuality comes as little surprise. These green hills were home to Chorotega tribes, thousands of years before the Spanish arrived, and locals still maintain strong ties to their indigenous roots. The Spanish left their own mark, most prominently in the form of soaring Catholic churches where elaborate murals hang over stern saints. The natural offerings around Masaya aren’t shabby either: Laguna Apoyo’s tranquil, sulfur-infused waters and the smoking wonder of Volcán Masaya are short bus rides away. Around Masaya, locals are just starting to discover how to capitalize on the many charms of their area; the infrastructure is improving drastically, new hotels and restaurants are opening and artisans are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to marketing their product. With past traditions and culture finally catching up to modern standards, now is a great time to visit the Masaya area.