Santa Tecla El Salvador. Previously known as Nueva San Salvador

 |  May 7th, 2022

Santa Tecla El Salvador is the capital city of the department of La Libertad; it is a municipality and city founded in 1854. Santa Tecla is located in the southern part of the San Salvador Volcano, 12 kilometers west of San Salvador.

Santa Tecla, formally known as Nueva San Salvador (New San Salvador), served as El Salvador’s capital from 1855 to 1859. The city became the country’s capital after the devastation of the nation’s capital by an earthquake.

In 2003, the city’s name was legally changed from Nueva San Salvador to Santa Tecla; the name change became official as of January 1st, 2004.

Santa Tecla El Salvador
City of Santa Tecla in La Libertad.

The City of Santa Tecla is considered one of the most developed in the country. It has top-of-the-line shopping, nightlife, restaurants, accommodations, living spaces, and commercial buildings.

Santa Tecla Tourism

Santa Tecla is one of the safest and cleanest cities in El Salvador; therefore, it is regularly visited by national and foreign tourists.

The municipality has fantastic options when it comes to outdoor activities. Plaza Volcan, Paseo El Carmen, and El Cafetalon are some of them. Also, El Boqueron National Park is near Santa Tecla.

In the urban areas of Santa Tecla, visitors con explore the Municipal Palace of Fine Arts also known as Palacio Tecleño de la Cultura or simply as the Palace of Sata Tecla. Additionally, the Our Lady of Carmen Church is worth exploring.

The nightlife is quite attractive in this city as well. One preferred destination to try the traditional Salvadoran Foods or drinks and have a good time with family or friends is Paseo El Carmen; it is a beautiful place with bars, cafes, and restaurants.

Santa Tecla has good shopping options for tourists. The Plaza Merliot shopping center and all the small stores found around the city offer a great variety of shopping options.

Santa Tecla History

The city of Santa Tecla was founded in 1854 by a presidential decree from President Jose María de San Martin. The new city’s name was Nueva San Salvador or New San Salvador.

The intention was to replace the city of San Salvador as the capital of the country. An 1854 earthquake had seriously damaged San Salvador.

New San Salvador served as the capital of the country until 1858. At this point, the government abandoned the project of permanently moving the capital city to Nueva San Salvador.

Santa Tecla has thrived and has become one of the most developed cities in the country. In 2003, the name was legally changed to Santa Tecla.

Attractions and Landmarks in Santa Tecla

The most popular attractions and landmarks in Santa Tecla are Paseo El Carmen, El Cafetalon, Our Lady of Carmen Church, the Municipal Palace of Fine Arts, Plaza Volcan, and Plaza Merliot.

Paseo El Carmen

Paseo El Carmen is a tourist destination located in the historic center of the city. It is a semi-pedestrian area with many restaurants and small stores.

Paseo El Carmen was declared by the Ministry of Tourism of El Salvador as a “Tourist Center of National Interest” in December 2012.

The best time to visit Paseo El Carmen is on the weekends after 4 pm. It is the perfect time to try the local traditional foods and drinks and shop for souvenirs. Also, on weekends, the municipality holds cultural or musical events.

Paseo El Carmen
Paseo El Carmen.

El Cafetalon

El Cafetalon is undoubtedly one of the best options for locals and tourists who want to spend time outdoors in this city.

El Cafetalón complex has soccer, softball, and basketball fields. It also has first-rate swimming pools and open areas for visitors to relax.

El Cafetalon is a perfect place to have a nice day with family or friends and enjoy outdoor activities.

In this open area, visitors can try the local cuisine sold by the many food trucks. Visitors can have fun here and try some delicious pupusas or a good plate of fried yucca.

Our Lady of Carmen Church

The Our Lady of Carmen church or the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen is a neo-gothic style catholic parish located in the historic district of Santa Tecla. It is right next to the Paseo El Carmen area.

This neo-gothic style church is a big part of the historical and cultural character of the city.

Our Lady of Carmen church
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen.

The Palace of Culture and Arts

The Santa Tecla’s Palace of Culture and Arts is considered a jewel of the city. Not only for its exuberant beauty and architecture but also for its historical relevance in the city.

The Palace was founded in 1911; it has 17 rooms, beautiful balconies, wide corridors, wooden doors, tall columns, and an internal and external patio.

According to historians, the Palace was in private hands until 1924. In 1924, it passed into the hands of the Municipality of Santa Tecla through an exchange of debts from the Castaneda Escolan family.

From 1924 to 2001, the building was used as the administrative offices of the Mayor’s Office.

The 2001 earthquake severely damaged the structure of the building, leaving it unoccupied until it reopened in 2008. Today, visitors can enjoy this beautiful historical attraction of Santa Tecla.

Santa Tecla's Palace of Culture and Arts
Santa Tecla’s Palace of Culture and Arts

Plaza Volcan

Plaza El Volcan is a mall-type area located about eight kilometers from Paseo El Carmen in Santa Tecla. Plaza El Volcan is located on the road to El Boqueron National Park.

This plaza has a variety of restaurants that serve traditional Salvadoran foods. Here, visitors can also enjoy the excellent climate, the botanical gardens, and the spectacular views of San Salvador.

Plaza Volcan is an ideal location to visit with family and friends. Visitors can chat and enjoy each other company while enjoying the rich mountain climate and the excellent views of the capital.

Plaza Volcan Santa Tecla
Plaza Volcan. Photo by Plaza Volcan

Plaza Merliot

Plaza Merliot is the largest shopping center in the city; it is the perfect place to enjoy a day of comfortable shopping in a safe and clean environment.

At Plaza Merliot, visitors will find Crafts stores, Bookstores, Sports Stores, Beauty Salons, Financial Institutions, and a food area, in which family activities happen every week.

Plaza Merliot
Plaza Merliot in Santa Tecla.

New San Salvador Patron Saint Festivities

The patron saint festivities of Santa Tecla are held from December 1st to the 25th in honor of Baby Jesus. The celebratory acts include the election of the queen of the festivities, cultural events, carnival, live music, among others.

Throughout December, the city of Santa Tecla holds religious, cultural, and family-fun events throughout the municipality.

Where to Eat in Santa Tecla?

Santa Tecla is one of the most developed cities in El Salvador; therefore, finding a place to try the local cuisine will not be a problem.

However, if you want to eat in an open environment, I recommend venturing into Plaza Volcan or El Cafetalon. Paseo El Carmen is also a good option.

If you want to eat in an urban setting, then head on to Plaza Merliot, Paseo El Carmen, or visit one of the many upscale restaurants in the city.

Santa Tecla El Salvador

This is a beautiful city to visit; it has plenty to offer visitors and it is centrally located. The City of Nueva San Salvador is also one of the best places to live in El Salvador.