Masaya’s Crafts Scene

Masaya’s Crafts Scene

Masaya, Nicaragua’s third largest city named after the Masaya Volcano, has a prolific crafts scene. In Masaya, within the walls of a castle-like structure that dates back to the 1900s, you’ll find the Mercado de Artesanias (Craft Market). After spending our morning visiting the Masaya and Nindirí volcanos, we stopped at the market to begin our search for an authentic Nicaraguan hammock. While browsing through the numerous market stalls, I couldn’t stop myself from taking pictures of the market’s vibrant colors.

Our kind juicers
Our kind juicers

Paintings like this are popular at the market although I'm not sure why
Paintings like this are popular at the market although I’m not sure why

After a few hours at the market, we finally found the perfect handmade blue and white hammock – the colors of the Nicaraguan flag! We exhausted the remainder of our souvenir budget on a painting for my parents.

En route back to Granada after leaving the Craft Market, we stopped in nearby San Jaun de Oriente, a municipality of Masaya that was founded in 1585. At that time, the city was known as San Juan de los Platos because clay dishes used in the region’s religious festivals were crafted there.

While there, we stopped at the Valentin Lopez School of Ceramics where we were given a demonstration of how its skilled artisans create their pottery. The artists use their hands and feet to prepare the clay before shaping it on a potter’s wheel. Once the earthenwares dry, they’re painted and buffed before being fired in the outdoor kiln.

When we walked into the display room, I immediately regretted spending all of our shopping money at the Craft Market. The ceramics school offers such a wide variety of pottery, masks, and jewelry for sale – quality crafts that anyone would be proud to display in their homes or adorn their bodies.

Fortunately, I had a few Cordobas left to buy some earrings.

So learn from my mistake and be sure to budget your time and money between these two Masaya crafts destinations wisely.



Do you like to invest in local crafts when you travel?

  • Pingback: Valentin Lopez Workshop and School of Ceramics – San Juan de Oriente, NI | Elliot Fish Expeditions()

  • Dana, it’s too bad you spent your budget at the Masaya market. On our first visit to Nicaragua we bought all kinds of ceramics as gifts for friends and family. They were a big hit. It was a little tricky getting them home but, we somehow managed to get them all home safe and sound. Hopefully, you’ll have time to re-visit San Juan de Oriente before you leave Nicaragua.

    • Dana Carmel

      Hey Debbie – unfortunately, I’m no longer in Nica, but the next time I go back, I’m definitely stocking up on ceramics in San Juan de Oriente. I wish I had this tip from you before I went. Thanks for your comment!

  • Lovely, I love browsing through markets..

    • Dana Carmel

      Me too, Stefania!

  • I’m usually not one to do a bunch of purchasing except I will buy something that connects me to the trip, a memory or something within the local culture. However, any gal I’m with is free to shop away! 🙂

    • Dana Carmel

      And THAT, is why you won’t be on the dating market for long, Mike! You know how to speak a woman’s language! 😉

  • Everything just looks so beautiful and colorful! I’d want to buy it all. Beautiful photos, thanks for sharing!

    Happy travels 🙂

    • Dana Carmel

      Thanks for reading, Lauren!

  • I loved all the beautiful colors and artistic work in this post. Makes me want to visit and bring home some souvenirs!

    • Dana Carmel

      The colors of the market definitely draw you in!

  • Very creative and colorful. I love the mug Jave is holding on the first photo.

    • Dana Carmel

      I know – it’s gorgeous, Salika. Next time I’m at the ceramics school, I’m going prepared to stock up!

  • Yes Dana I like to invest in local crafts when I travel because most of the time these crafts focus on relationships, events or people.

    • Dana Carmel

      I agree, Raymond. And handmade crafts like this are a tangible way to forge a deeper connection with a place.

  • I love visiting craft markets like these. What a great place to go shopping and buy souvenirs Those ceramics are just beautiful. That picture of the lady in the toilet is funny but also disturbing. The fruits look delicious too!

    • Dana Carmel

      I don’t know what it is, but Nicaraguan artists seem to have a penchant for paintings of ladies sitting on the toilet. It’s kind of odd as I saw so many of these paintings throughout the market.


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