San Jose

TOWNS: Alajuela

(172.000). The second largest town of the country. It`s situated in Meseta Central, 10 kilometres west of San Jose on gently sloping hill which has an altitude of 920 m.a.s.l. on the south-western side of town to 970 m.a.s.l. on the north-eastern side. It was established in 1782 after building the chapel by bishop Esteban Lorenzo. At the beginning that was called Villa Hermosa, ("the beautiful town"), then San Juan de Nepomucena before becoming Alajuela. It`s a centre for sugar procession. In 1872 was linked by the atlantic railway with San Jose. In Alajuela, it`s almost customary for women to retain their maiden names after marriage. The saint patron of the town is Saint Geronado.

Airport of Juan Santamaria
It`s situated 3 kilometres to the south-east from Alajuela. It`s the biggest airport in the country. It has very good bus and taxi transport links with towns of Meseta Central. It was opened in 1958 (as international) under the name of El Coco. In the vicinity of that there is the famous sculpture of Francisco Paco Zuniga "Monumento al Agricultor".

Casa de la Cultura
[Av.1/calle 2]. (Former Palacio Municipal). It was erected in 1874 and in 1936 underwent the modernization. It`s two storey building with flat roof and ornate mould. Windows of first floor are accented by ornate frames, and ones from first floor are separated by pilasters. The first ground is partly rusticated. The arched main gate is flanked by commemorative plates. In fasade stands out iron balcony with butressess. In the backyard there is a garden with stone pathes converged in central point. It used to house an airport terminal and then a town-hall.

[Av. Central-1/calle Central]. It`s situated in front of the Central Park. It was erected in 1863 in neoclassic style. It`s on cross-base, has dome-shaped roof covered with red, corrugated metal, that is important landmark. Its 5-sided facade is destinguished by two twin side towers and triangular fronton. It`s distinguished by doubled pilasters and protuberant entablature. The main entrance is a imitation of six columns. In the interior, to the left of the altar, is a large statuary of Jesus bleeding and nailed to the cross. Due to the earthquake in december of 1990 a dome was badly damaged. It was repaired in 1993.

Church of La Agonia
[Av. Central/calle 9]. It`s ornate baroque church built in 1941. Inside there is a Renaissance-like portrait of our Mother of Perpetual Sorrow, and a brown Christus suspended above the wooden gilt-painted altar. Another statue depicts a priest holding a cross with a miniature Jesus on it, a skull and the flovers resting at his feet.

Church of El Llano
[Av.3-5/calle 13-15]. Built in 1865. Due to the bad condition it is separated by high iron fence. To the north from that there is the newer structure under the same invocation. It is small, one naved and its fasade (renovated in 2002) which consists of three arched gates devided by pilasters and small four-sided belfry with a dome.

Church of Methodist
[Av.1/calle Central-2]. It`s situated at the Park Central. It was built in 1928. It`s one-storey building with arched windows separated each other by column-like corrugated pilasters, protuberant foundations, and attic in the shape of the shell. It has a side-tower, one storey higher than the rest of the building that is topped by the small dome. It has the high, arched gate.

On April is organized the Fiesta of Culture and The Day of National Hero. On July is held 9-days long Fiesta de los Mangos that includes arts & crafts fair and parades. On October 16th takes place the San Geronado fiesta with flower parade and performances of kids orchestras.

College University
[Av.Central/calle 2]. It`s situated at avenida Central/calle2, at the southern edge of Central Park. It was built in 1889 as a Institute of Alajuela where were phisic and chemistry classes. It`s rectangular-base, two-storey building. The windows of first ground are framed by ornate trims with the keys and cut each other by pilasters. The second ground has arched-windows and is topped by flat roof accented by the mould with small butresses. The both grounds are separated by the mould on which are put the tiny iron balconies. It has been a seat of Colege of University since 1978 under the name of Calian Vargas.

Hospital of San Rafael
[Av.9/calle Central-1]. It`s situated in one of the Park Gen. Elza Alfaro side. It was built in 1883. It`s long, one-storey building with two-sided roof and tall, rectangular arched windows. In the central part of the fasade there are two-sided steps led to the main entrance. It stands out with high arched main gate, a protuberant foundation and an attic in form of shell. On the right side of fasade there is side minitower with a dome.

Ministry of Education
[Av.1/calle Central]. It`s very massive fortified building from 1874. It was renovated in 1936. It`s a seat of the Ministry of Education in Alajuela. It has a protuberant, massive stone foundations with rustication. The first ground is windowsless and separated from the second storey by the elaborate mould. It has rectangular windows of first storey and the imitations of stone balconies. It`s destinguished by very fat very advanced krenelażowa attic and the corner round bays. The building looks like a castle.

Monument of Juan Santamaria
Its building was confirmed by parliament on July 26th of 1887. It`s placed on tiny concrete Juan Santamaria Square. It`s made of bronze and features Alajuela born national hero, who has lost his life in the battle at Santa Rosa. He rushes forward with flaming torch and rifle. The monument is flanked by two cannons. Around that roses are planted. There are some objections with authenticity of monument. They say that when Costa Rica charged french sculptor with making the statue, he got the similar proposition from Haiti government. Because of confusion, Costa Rica monument was to move by mistake to Haiti and contrary Haiti one to Costa Rica. The followers of that theory, as a proof point out the fact, that the figure wears the uniform similar to those, that were used by French Legion in island. But the management of Juan Santamaria Museum, claims that in 1852 in Costa Rica was a Soldier Academy, and its soldiers wore the same uniforms designs.

Museum of Juan Santamaria
[Av.3/calle Central-2]. It is in the back side of Ministry of Education building. (Priorly in this place was a hermitage devoted to Saint Michael). The idea of opening museum appeared in 1972. There are featured the items dates to 1840`s, 1850`s, 1860`s (weapons, cannons, cannon`s balls, portraits, swords, historical documents, pictures of participants of battles against filibuster William Walker and XIX century maps of Costa Rica). It is devided into 3 parts: two with permanent and one temporary exhibitions.

Park Cementery
[Av.3-5/calle 10-12]. To the west it borders with municipal cementery. It is covered by mango trees, tall palms (on the eastern side) and well kept grasses. On the high pedestal there is a bust of ex-president [1882-1885] Prospero Fernandez Oreamuno. Its pathes cross each other on a right angle except one which as a loop run in its verges.

Park Central
[Av.Central-2/calle Central-1]. It`s covered by mango trees on which the three-toad slothes reside (because of that Alajuela is called "the town of mango trees"). It`s called also the square of general Tomas Guardia and has a nickname of "park of dead doves". Around that there are a lot of XIX-century buildings with verandas and fancy grilles. In the centre of park stands the arch-structure (so called kiosko), where two times a week musical concerts are held and 3-leveled fountain with Cupids. Some of the park benches have chess sets built into them. There are put also memorial plates and statues of Afrain Arrojo and Leon Fernandez Bonilla. On April 11th during the National Hero Day celebration, parades and dances are held around that. On every July, there is celebrated also so called Mango Festiwal. In 2002 underwent a complete renovation.

Park of Gen. Eloy Alfaro
[Av.Central-1/calle 7-9]. (Park Palmares, Park Hospital). There are the stone benches and a fountain with two stone fishes. In its norh edge is situated the one-storey Hospital San Rafael. It`s covered by the deciduous shaded trees, among which there is a Guanacaste tree. There is also a bust of Guttierez Zeledon, a composer of the national anthem. It is devoted to Equador ex-president Eloy Alfaro.

Park Juan Santamaria
[Av.2/calle Central-2]. There is a small square with monument of national hero Juan Santamaria and two cannons. There is also the concrete fountain in the shape of snail with high and narrow top, the modern ornate lamps, metallic benches, grasses and small bushes in the shapes of balls. There are also four marble square plates commemorativing the events and people of 1856.

Park Villa Hermosa
[Av.Central/calle 13-15]. Its part is devoted for playground for children (colourfull swings, tires). On one side is separated by high brick, colourfull fence. Around the trees are designed the stone benches. There are big trees with huge, low crowns.

School of Esquivel Ibarra
[Av.5/calle 5]. It is named after the ex-president (1889, 1902-1906). It was built in 1933. Its one-storeyed massive fasade looks as if being fortified. It stands out with adorned main entrance with baluster attic, half-rounded rosette and pilasters. The windows (beneath each there are rectangular niches) have rectangular shapes and and are separated each other by rustific pilasters.

Square Calian Vargas
[Av.4/calle 2-4]. It was designed in 1962 as a playground for children. It stands out with stunted trees with visible roots and metallic benches. There are few sand fields. There are stone tables with 3 benches in each of them. In 1967 was put a plate devoted for scout Ronald Rodriquez Vargas.

Square Carmen
[Av.6-8/calle 8-10]. It is the only square which is not placed next to the church (the nearest church under the invocation of Carmen is placed a block away). There is a football grass stadion and plate from 1941 commemorativing Gregorio Jose Ramireza (a merchant and sailor, who in 1823 leaded the victory storm at Ochomogo and who later instead continuing the political carrer prefered devoted himself for farming).

Square El Llano de Calufa
[Av.5-7/calle 5-7]. [Square of sport]. In its southern side a school of Ascencion Esquivel. In its south-east corner there is a stone marking the place of birth of Juan Santamaria. It was designed in 1978 as a sport square. There is a football grass stadion, a bust of ex-president [1920-1924] Julio Acosta and the plate commemorativing its donators:: Diego Ocampo, Ronaldo Arayo and Santiago Arguedas.

Square Julio Acosta
[Av.3-5/calle 13-15], [Square Maracano]. It was designed in 1977. To the east there is the El Llano church. Its main element is a football grass stadion, but there is also a plate devoted for Carlos Luis Fallas (a writer).

[Av. 2/calle2]. It was built in 1942 on rectangular base in 1942. One storeyed building. The side walls are cut by pilasters linked each other by arches. The main entrance is adorned by sophisticated fronton. Primarily the structure served as the municipal theater. In 1986 housed part of neighbouring Colegio Universitario. In 2004 the fasade renovation. There are plans to reopen it as a theater.

© 2004; SLUPSK; Rafal Cezary Piechocinski