I enjoy military history, so while I liked this museum I realize it may not be for everyone. But the museum also has two non-military exhibits that make this a worthwhile trip for anyone. For one, it has a real Pope Mobile - they have the vehicle that Pope John Paul II rode in during his papal visit in 1993. I gotta say, it was pretty cool to see this. Second, just outside the entrance to the museum, is a giant 3D topographical map of the entire country. Its huge! And it is well signed with markers for key points of interests and specific routes. When I was there a school group was getting a tour of it and you could see the kids really getting into it.
The museum itself covers the military history of the region starting with the Conquest, moving through independence from Spanish rule and onto some obscure wars fought with their new neighbors in the 19th century. A big focus is the civil war of the 1970s and 1980s and the museum goes to great length to refer to this as the “legitimate” defense of the country. How much you agree with that sentiment (or not) is usually a very political issue. Regardless, the displays here are pretty fascinating as there is quite a bit of hardware on display, mostly a mix of American made gear that the US provided the El Salvadoran army and Soviet made weaponry captured from the insurgents. The main exhibit ends with a rather interesting display on the role of the El Salvadoran army as part of the occupation force in Iraq after the US invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, as well as UN deployments around the world as part of peace keeping missions.
Overall this is a pretty interesting place and its free. But hours are limited to the morning hours, 8am – noon. There are restrooms and a small shop to get soft drinks and coffee.
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