Cardenas is a small town located on the western shore of Lake Nicaragua in the Rivas department of Nicaragua. It was founded in the mid-19th century as a hub for trade and transportation across the lake. At the time of its founding, it was one of the largest and most important towns on the lake.

During the mid-19th century, Nicaragua was in a state of political turmoil, with various factions vying for control of the government. In 1856, the American filibuster William Walker invaded Nicaragua with a private army and attempted to establish a pro-slavery government. His forces occupied Cardenas for several months, using it as a base for their operations.

After the defeat of the filibuster forces, Cardenas began to grow and prosper as a center for trade and commerce. It was connected to the rest of Nicaragua by a network of roads and waterways, and was an important stop on the steamship route across Lake Nicaragua.

In the early 20th century, Cardenas was hit hard by a series of natural disasters, including a major earthquake in 1902 and a hurricane in 1916. The town was largely destroyed and many of its residents were forced to flee.

Despite these setbacks, Cardenas was able to rebuild and recover in the following years. In the mid-20th century, it became a popular destination for tourists and vacationers, attracted by its scenic location on Lake Nicaragua and its historic buildings and landmarks.

During the Nicaraguan Revolution in the 1980s, Cardenas was the site of several major battles between the Sandinista government and the Contras. The town suffered significant damage and many residents were displaced during this period.