San Juan de Oriente

San Juan de Oriente is a municipality in the Masaya department of Nicaragua. It one of the "Pueblos Blancos" because of the the white colonial style churches that it and the other municipalities have in Masaya.


The municipality of San Juan de Oriente was founded in 1585. It was called San Juan de los Platos because they made clay dishes to be used during religious festivals in the region. The Nicoya and Potosme tribes lived here and spoke the language Náhuatl.

The colonial style church was constructed in 1612 by Gervasio Gallegos de Galacia and Juan de Bracamonte y Peñaranda.


San Juan de Oriente is 45 km south of the Nicaraguan capital Managua. It possesses shoreline along Laguna de Apoyo a saltwater volcanic lagoon.


There are no universities in this small town. It is home to one preschool, three primary schools, and two secondary schools.


Like most of the department of Masaya, the economy in San Juan de Oriente is heavily based around artisans. The specialty in San Juan de Oriente is ceramics. Many ceramic makers have studied advanced methods in Spain and there are several with international accolades for their work. Styles range from Precolumbian to flora and fauna to geometric.


San Juan de Oriente is a rather small town with limited entertainment options. There is a bar at the entrance that is popular with the locals as well as a pool hall at the center of town.


All of the bus routes to and from San Juan de Oriente can be found at Mercado Roberto Huembes in Managua. Sa Juan de Oriente is approximately one and a half hours by bus in an ordinary route and one hour in an express bus.

Fiestas Patronales

The patron saint festival in San Juan de Oriente celebrates the birth of John the Baptist on the week of June 24. The celebration consists of many processions with statues of John the Baptist, fireworks, and most famous of all "chilillo" a dance/sport where two "chinegros" use dried bovine penises fashioned in the form of a saber complete with leather handguard to whip their opponent. After a few seconds somebody in the costume of a yegüita (mare) enters between the two people ending the bout. While no winners or losers are declared, the hard whipping does leave marks or scars.

Infastructure & Communication

Electricity is supplied from the Managuan power grid and is therefore subject to same blackout problems that Managua has.

Water service is supplied by a plant across the carretera in the municipality of Catarina. They take turns with water access, thus each town has water every other day.

Conventional landline telephone is provided by Enitel, the national telephone company. The two cellphone companies in Nicaragua, Claro and Movistar, have extensive coverage in San Juan de Oriente.

A new health clinic was completed in August 2006.

Other communities ("comarcas" or "valles") in the Municipality of San Juan de Oriente

* El Castillo
* El Tempisque
* Buena Vista
* La Laguna de Apoyo

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