Nicaragua: Buildings of Old Managua



Teatro Margot, Managua (photo: Bernard Gordillo)

There are silent witnesses among us, lying tired, in despair, muted by time and neglect.

They are the buildings of old Managua, survivors of the great earthquake of ’72 and the revolution of ’79, and of much since, faithful observers of history and of people.

They are survivors, no doubt, first and foremost.

The most beautiful among them are French, of an architectural style known as Art deco, once very popular in Managua.

Yet their glory days are over, their facades cracked, crumbling, many in permanent disrepair.

Those that lie in ruin continue to cry out.

They remember a time before the earthquake; they remember being beautiful, being cared for, even celebrated.

And now they lie mostly hidden, forced into anonymity, in neighborhoods that many remember, but few recognize, and which some try to forget.

The buildings lie damaged, silently sobbing, awaiting their fate.

Do they hope?

What is to become of them?

Does anyone really care?

The survivors whisper of a once fashionable architecture, but now, like a Greek antiquities museum, we can only imagine what spectacle they must have cast, the fixed pose they must have struck.

And so, too, for the neighborhoods they made beautiful.

We can only hope they continue to survive, in whatever condition they’ve come to settle, if only to attempt to keep us from repeating the most catastrophic of our mistakes.

Lotería Nacional de Beneficencia, Managua (photo: Bernard Gordillo)

[N.B. This is not an official Department of State website or blog. The views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State.]

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