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Established in 1504 by the future conqueror of Cuba Diego Velázquez, AZUA is among the oldest cities in the New World. In the early sixteenth century, Mexico conquistador Hernán Cortes served as its mayor, but despite this lofty history there’s nothing left of the original city, which was demolished by an earthquake in 1751. On top of that, Haitian armies occupied Azua multiple different times in the nineteenth century and, despite being repelled in the El Número mountain passes to the east, left the village virtually sacked. Although a celebration is held on 19 March every year to commemorate an 1844 battle that resulted in victory over the Haitians, the town’s Pueblo Viejo holds no colonial ruins, and Puerto Viejo – the old port – is merely an industrial site for the extraction of natural gas. If you are travelling between Lago Enriquillo and San Juan de la Managua, you will have to change guaguas here. Although most travellers rush through, Azua does boast a couple of decent beaches.

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