Administrative division
Province of San Jose
Province of Cartago
Province of Alajuela
Province of Puntarenas Province of Limon
Province of Heredia
Province of Guanacaste

PROVINCES: Province of Alajuela

A town on route San Jose - Puntarenas, placed high above the gorge in the region of rolling cofee plantations at 698 m.a.s.l. At the end of XIX century that was used as the resting point on the way between San Jose and Puntarenas. The National Geographic Magazine was declared the "place with the perfect climate in the world". Recently around the town was marked the increase in the number of resident snakes - particularly the deadly "fer de lance". One kilometer off the town there is a statue of the Virgin Mary on a hill.

It was founded in 1864 and got the municipal rights in 1903. The main historical building of that is a metalic church of las Mercedes. The individual sectors of that were imported from Europe in 1897. It has two twin spires. Inside a few white sculptures, glassy candelabres, stained-glass windows, white arched wooden ceiling and marble altar are distinguished. In historic time, on that place stood another church, that was destroyed due to the earthquake. According to the inhabitants, the metallic elements of current church, packed in large boxes were sent by mistake to Costa Rica. They say that its primary pdestination point was to be european Greece.

The church is fronted by park of Abraham Rodriquez with tall palms and mango trees. In the middle of that there are domed kiosko, fountain and obelisc erected to commemorate the town`s foundation. There is a municipal museum in the House of Culture with over a million species of insects on display. It traces also the development of the area during the last 200 years. In the vicinity coffee, sugar canes and pineapple plantations dominate. (Thanks to the latter ones, Grecia used to be called "the pineapple capital of Costa Rica". Besides Grecia is considered to be the one of the cleanest Latin America towns.

Coter (lake)
A tiny heart-shaped lake placed in depression between Tenorio and Arenal volcanoes. The biggest natural lake of the country. It is considered to be hunted by Malekus Indians. It`s surrounded by pastures. It`s inhabited by wolf cichlids fishes [Cichlasoma dovii]. It`s perfect for surfers. It got international recognision when in 1971, above its surface was took a picture of UFO. (Till today its autentity wasn`t impaired).

La Fortuna
Small, picturesque village not far from the eastern side of Arenal lake, in the vicinity of active Arenal volcanoe. It`s located 253 meters above sea level. Next to that is situated surrounded by tropical plants - 70-metres high La Fortuna waterfall that forms an attractive natural pool. The main square is very dusty. In its suburbs there are ginger and pepper plantations.

La Garita
A village on the Puntarenas-San Jose route. Next to that spread spectacular gorge, above which one of the oldest Costa Rica bridges is hung. It`s surrouned by ferns, palms, ficuses and flowering plants nurseries. There is also situated Zoo Ave-(Zoo of birds). It has the largest in Central America collection of tropical birds including over 60 Costa Rican bird species plus a few mammals and reptiles in a pleasant park-like setting.

La Guacima
There is famous race track where motor race are held on weekends. La Guacima is renowned for founded in 1983 the breeding farm for over 500 different kinds of exotic butterflies. (That`s the first commercial butterfly farm in Latin America). It`s the second largest exporter of living pupae in the world (30.000 pupae exported annually). There are tropical gardens filly with hundreds of butterflies species. In town there are two fields for polo, a game introduced to Costa Rica in 1898.

Los Chiles
A small frontier town on the Rio Frio. In July 1994 that became a new border crossing. Around the fruit fincas of Tico Fruit predominate.

It was founded in 1835 by Judas Tadeo Corrales and got the municipal rights in 1918. It`s a agricultural centre with twin tower, red-roofed baroque church. Inside of that thick limestone Corinthian columns support a fine ceiling. The church is destinguished by religious paintings in the side. In the north side of Central Square is placed a town-hall where on its front wall are put the memorial plateaus of Alice Acuna Murillo (a painter) and Jose Louis Molina Nunez (a sprinter). It`s one of the places in Costa Rica where balooning is practised. According to a legend its name has something to do with orange tree, which in the first half of XIX century, the expedition under the leadership of Tadeo Corralesa founded in the forest.

Ojo de aqua
A watery resting complex, placed to the south off Alajuela. In translation its name means "the eye of water". It consists of football, valleyballs fields, tennis courts and swimming pools.

A village on the Avocado Mountains foot (at level of 229 metres). Its name has something to do with the Indian Cacique Gurutina. It`s destinguished by vast next-to-church square with old trees and very steep, narrow streets. A few kilometres east of that there is a 400-ha park Iguanaestablished by German biologist, set in tropical forest. Orotina is also a projecting site of the airport that will someday serve Puntarenas. In 1522 the vicinity of Orotina was explored by Gonzalez Davila. On March 1561 Juan Vasquez de Coronado set up there village Villa los Reyes.

The town to the south of Alajuela province. It derives its name from the royal palms that were used by first settlers for building the houses. It`s noted because many nation known poets, presidents (Luis Alberto Monge Alvarez), musicians and teachers came from there. During the first weeks of January, the traditional fiesta (feature food, carnival, rides bingo, horse parades) is held. It was built at the end of XIX ventury. In its Central Park the mimoza trees rise. There is also twin-towered church, which was started building in 1904. It`s distinguished by mosaic floor and a large collection of stain-glases brought from Europe. One of the most known features a woman in renaissance style dress, sitting at the organs among children and angels.

Around the town there are tabacco plantations. It`s renowned for lively week-long agricultural fiesta held each mid-january with bull fight, carnival rides, local meals and cowboy songs competitions. One kilometer south of Palmares is Jardin de las Guarias - a private orchid collection and the largest such in the country.

The agricultural centre of sugar cane and citruses cultivating. It got the municipal rights in 1953. It`s placed at 650 m.n.p.m., and is called by inhabitants San Carlos. Sometimes is used as a stopping place on route to Arenal volcanoe. It`s surrounded by lash pasture, some of the most developed in the country. (They produces the best quality milk in the nation). On April is held the biggest cattle markets in the country. It`s typical cowboy town. There are a few shops offering crafted leather saddles. The central point of town is a main square with shade trees and benches. On the north-west corner of Quesada there is a Mercado Central with fruits and vegetables stall. Since 1995, a town is a seat of diocese. There is the statue of Mario Quiros Sasso. The church is destinguished by modern concrete architecture.

San Antonio de Belen
It`s distinguished by massive, big (10.850 mk) church temple. It`s single-spired and made with neoclassical style of white marble and was announced in 1999. In the town there is the Linguistic Center of Central America.

San Luis (waterfall)
The third waterfall in Costa Rica. It`s placed within Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. It plummets 80 meters down in two levels to the San Luis river. On its top from where spreads the panoramic views on bay of Nicoya, leads the climbing trail.

San Rafael de Alajuela
There is the biggest prison in the country and historical surrounded by palms church from 1883. On its suburbs there is a plan to build the sport quarter of Ricardo Saprissa.

San Ramon
It got the municipal rights in 1902. It has the impressive church on the main square which is built of steel manufactured by the Krups armament factory in Germany and has beautiful colonial tail floor and stained glass windows. It`s surrounded by high, white, ornate wall. In the church garden there is a hearth of Francisco Jose Orlich B. In the old palace on the north side of square there is a municipal museum that has exhibits focusing on role San Ramon has played in Costa Rican history and culture from ancient to present. On the main square there is the futuristic kiosko, ornate Rome-style gate (in front of the church), small amphiteater and a bust of Alberto Brenes. It displays also a reproduction home from the turn of century. On saturday morning is held a farmer`s market full of fruits, vegetables and cattle. On March 30th, fiesta de San Ramon is held there. In dances and parades take part 30 representatives of neighbouring villages. Close to the Central Square there is also another church Tremedar (modern, light blue). It`s a center for cigar production. There are at least three cigar factories: Tabalera de Occidente, Fabrica Don Pedro and Fabrica San Lazaro. There is also a school of Jorge Washington. It`s called "the city of poets and presidents" because several of them were born or lived there (there was born Jose Figuerres Ferrer and nowadays lives there ex-president Rodrigi Carazo).

A town situated to the north-west from Alajuela. It`s known for making twowheels, wooden cards called carretas. In a few private oxcards factories, the distinctive element for them are forming by hands. They painted them using traditional designs. Now their purpose is for tourists. Other famous goods being made there are: the miniature of oxcards, furnituries and puzzles. On the south of town there is a Plaza de Artesania that combines restaurances, bars, crafts shops. The garden at the back is surrounded by small workshops where oxcarts are laboriously painted. In the north part of town, there is an Artesania Market, where also the souvenirs can be bought. On the small hill the church from 1949 with twin towers is standing. One of the tower is adorned with painted cart wheel. On the second one are featured carved wooden frieze with biblical scenes. On the central square there is the kiosko with careta inside. There is a tableau of Juan Carlos and Reina Sophia from 1991.

A small town close to the Nicaragua border. In the vicinity there are plantations of cocoa. On every year, on October 12th, the so called corn fiesta with parade and costumes made entirely of corn husks is celebrated. From the vicinity of Upala a women`s group has exported thousands of chrysalises to USA and Europe.

Venado (caves)
To the north off the Arenal Lake. It was formed 17 millions years ago. The main entrance is a rocky hole leading to the room where Venado stream is born. In sum the cave is devided into 8 rooms with stalactites and stalagmites. It`s a resting place for bats. It`s dotted with stalactites and stalagmites. It has endless romms with very slippery floors. It was descovered in 1945 when the owner of the farm fell into the hole. In 1962 it was explored by a Franchman and in 1990 addition chamber was discovered.

The agriculture centre with the famous cattle market. It got the municipal rights in 1918. The town is noted for Palmito cheese production and peach preserves. In the centre of town a small white, red-tiled church is built. It has two sided towers and horse-shoe steps. Inside there are a lot of priceless drawings. On the Place in front of the church, so called alive sculptures stand. They are cypress brushes cut into a variety of animal and people shapes by Evangelisto Blanco. They are featured among others a pair of dancers, a cross-bearing Christ, an cat riding a motorbike, bulls, elephant, rabbit and airplane, carreta, helicopter and others.

2004; SLUPSK; Rafal Cezary Piechocinski