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“Bizarre, fantastical and rather disturbing experience”

Museum of Legends and Traditions (Museo de Tradiciones y Leyendas)
Ranked #9 of 44 things to do in Leon
Attraction details
Tucson, Arizona
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Bizarre, fantastical and rather disturbing experience”
Reviewed August 29, 2012

This place was quite startling, it used to be a prison for madmen and later for political prisoners. I was quite taken aback to enter and find a beautiful peaceful courtyard with a fabulous old building in its center, its walls depicting primitive etchings of gruesome tortures and executions of its unfortunate former residents. I scuttled my 9 year old daughter past this as quickly as possible and into the rooms. Then it was her turn to be enthralled and appalled in equal measure. Each prison cell was filled with life size human-like creatures from Nicaraguan folklore, some of them were quite terrifying to behold and so bizarre! On the walls were more drawings of the former prisoners and their daily activities within the rooms. I kept trying to distract my daughter from the sketch of a prisoner having his teeth forcibly filed or another one being trussed and dangled headfirst into a well,or another having his stomach kicked in by a guard. It was both disturbing and moving to suddenly recognize the actual well and the mango tree still standing in the courtyard as the torture well and the tree from the paintings on the prison walls. In one room there was a lurid description of the different means of torture and photos of the victims(some no older than my 9 year old). Oddly, there was a sense of peace and beauty in that old courtyard and one simply felt closer to the poor people who had suffered so much therein. It was a beautiful, primitive, captivating place and the young people working there told their own histories of their parents and grandparents who had lived through the revolution and experienced what went on at that time. This place was the most interesting and unusual museum we saw in all of Nicaragua. I highly recommend it and my daughter was morbidly fascinated as opposed to traumatized by the experience. The workers said a priest was brought to exorcise the place before they opened it, but no spirits emerged to be exorcised. The place is strangely peaceful and gentle. Please go see it, you certainly won't forget the experience.

Visited July 2012
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English first
Level Contributor
53 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
“Historic location but odd museum”
Reviewed July 18, 2012

Learning about the history of the museum building (it housed political prisoners) was incredibly interesting. The folklore piece was less interesting. It was a collection if life size dolls with brief mythical stories associated with each one.

Overall, it is worth the walk and 30 cordobas admission fee just for the historical nature of the building.

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1 Thank C R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brussels, Belgium
Level Contributor
103 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 111 helpful votes
“Moderately interesting”
Reviewed June 5, 2012

The prison 21 element is some paintings on the wall. I found the guides tales of torture at the prison more interesting than Nicaraguan myths and legends....paper mâché and pretty weird clothing. Not a must see in the city.

Visited June 2012
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Thank Thomas M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pensacola, Florida
Level Contributor
38 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Great Building, Wrong Theme”
Reviewed March 22, 2012

This very modest museum is housed in a former jail that held -- and tortured -- political prisoners. Its a very odd juxtaposition: there are line drawings painted on the walls depicting the sometimes mundane, sometimes terrifying life of the prisoners, but the exhibitions are all about Nicaraguan fables and legends (most of them of the "great-way-to-scare-your-children-into-submission" variety: spirits and ghosts that prowl the streets at night looking for flawed and feckless people to frighten). I would have much preferred a museum more congruent with the building that houses it: one that explores Nicaragua's less-than-flattering treatment of "enemies of the state." In its current incarnation it's a bit of a lark -- a fun place to take children, but fairly insubstantial...

Visited March 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, PA
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“A moving experience”
Reviewed March 10, 2012

We learned so much about Nicaragua at this museum. It's housed in an old prison that was the site of terrible abuses by previous governments. In addition to presenting Nicaragua's folk stories, the story of past abuses are told so as not to be forgotten. That is is now a folklore museum for the people makes this site very moving. We took our 8-year-old here, and she was fascinated, not only by the folk tales but by the story of political repression also. It was a great learning opportunity for her, giving our family a chance to talk about our individual roles in promoting democracy and good government.

Visited December 2011
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Thank Blakey96
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