Precolumbian period
XVI century
XVII century
XVIII century
XIX century
XX century
XXI century


The building of Costa Rica - Panama road

For facilitation of trade communication with Panama, by order of governor Gonzalo Vasquez de Coronado in 1601 the route from Cartago to Panama was led. Inhabitants of Cartago were carried there oxcarts with mules, that later were sold in Panama markets. That was the first export good in the country.

The vision of Black Virgin

On 2 August of 1635, in the place of today catedral in Cartago, a young Mulatte girl, (Juanie Pereirze), who was picking the dry twigs, perceived the stone figure of Virgin Mary. One of the priests was to say then that was a sign to treat everyone the same despite of the colour of skin. People decided to build on that place a chapel under Virgin Mary invocation. (Today there stands catedral which is visited by half a million pilgrims on every year).

Santiago de Talamanca village foundation

In 1605 Diego de Sojo by order of governor Juan de Ocon y Truillo, at the mouth of Sixaola river founded the Santiago de Talamanca village. He named that after the place of his birth in Spain. Situated in the edge of Talamanca region, it functioned thanks for commercial links with Panama and for building the ships. That town foundation is considered as the first step for conquering Talamanca region.

The first visit of bishop

In 1608 a bishop of Costa Rica and Nicaragua come to Costa Rica for the first time. During his visit he quarreled with off that time governor Ocon y Trillo.

Indians rebellions

In 1610 in order to avoid quarrels between governor Ocon y Trillo and commander Gonzalo Vasquez de Coronado, the Guatemala Audience established the new province Dui in Talamanca region. Coronado got the official order to submit that. He appointed Diego de Sojo to do that. Sojo treated the Indians with outmost cruelty ordering the floggings and cutting off the ears of the most important Indian chiefs. (He was killing Indian caciques in order to disorganize hierarchy in tribes). That was the immediately reason why on 29 July of 1610, the Indians revolted putting Spaniards to the swords and burnt down Santiago de Talamanca village.

Next ill-successes

In 1611 next expedition to Talamanca region led by Diego de Sojo proved abortive.

In 1612, two expeditions set out from Nicaragua. First one by land was led by Pedro de Oliver, and the second one by sea was led by Sebastian Chacon de Luna. Both ended with ill-success.

The continuation of conquests in Talamanca

In 1615, Cartago was in fatal situation. Due to the lack of Indian labour, many unestored houses fell into ruin. That`s why again the invasion for Cordillera Talamanca in order to catch a large Indian population was expected. Off that time governor Juan Mendoza y Medrano ordered to make a few invasions for that territory. That was so cruel that the King of Spain ordered to get him to the Guatemala Audience. His sucessor Alonso del Castillo y Guzman in 1619 went with soldiers to river Tarire where caught and drove to Cartago 400 Indians.


Costa Rica was a place often attacked by pirates from XVI to the half of XIX century. The biggest pirates attacks took place in XVII century. Pirates invasions were the main reason of collapsing two important colonial ports: Matina on the Caribbean coast and Esparza on Pacific side. Pirates called to Costa Rica because they wanted to find the easy corridor linking both oceans which could anable them to get easy to Peru. According to historians, the cruelty of pirates were the main factory for settling the population in Meseta Central, in the middle of the country. They said that often pirate attacks to Costa Rica has something to do with its strategic position in the isthmus.

First pirate, who come to the region of Costa Rica was Francis Drake. Since 1579, he had his own base on Osa Peninsula and Cano island. He attacked and plundered ships in the area from Mexico to Panama.

Conquering of Talamanca region

In 1662, after the death of governor Andres Arias, his son Rodrigue Arias Maldonado tried to reconquer the Talamanca region and rebuild Santiago de Talamanka town. He managed to subordinate some Indians who settled on the Taire river bed.

Soon after that due to the ill-treatment of Indians, they initiated the rebellion. In 1663 Arias Maldonado put together enough men and supplied for a new expedion into Talamanca where he founded the city of Conamare. After the short time his soldiers deserted. So he was left alone in the mountains. Indians that found him, took him to the nearest spanish settlement. Maldonado was later granted from the king of Spain the title of of governor of Talamanca.

The Henry Morgan`s invasion

In 1665, Spain closed Costa Rican ports because of the threat of pirate attacks. On the subsiguent year, 600 pirates led by Henry Morgan have landed in Portete, close to Limon and marched on Cartago. Governor Juan Lopez de la Flor sent the colonial army which prepared to fight with pirates at Quebrada Honda. On finding out about that, Morgan decided to retreat. This event was called to be the miracle and was linked with Virgin of Concepcion del Rescate de Ujarras.

Since 1670, one french pirate regularly attacked Esparza port in Pacific Coast. The biggest attacks happened in 1680 and two times in 1685. After the last one, the town was left by inhabitants.

Putting down the Matina

In 1676, 800 pirates called to Portete and captured the Matina valley on the caribbean side, and they stayed there for a few weeks until they were driven away by united spanish-indian forces led by Costa Rica governor Juan Francisco Saenz. Matina was attacked also in 1681, 1687, 1702, 1704 and 1740. In 1741 in order to avoid any future attacks, the Fort Fernando was established but a year later it was completely burned down by furious pirates.

The treasures from Quepos

In 1671 the leaders of the churches in Panama because of the fear of supposed attack of pirate Henry Morgan decided about loading 3 galleons with 700 tons of church`s values. The ships set out to the North. There is a conviction that their load was unloaded in the vicinity of the new port of Quepos.


In 1678, 28 years after bringing the cocoa trees from Nicaragua, in Limon province 130.000 miniplantations were set up. The biggest plantations were situated in Matina. They belonged to the elites from Cartago. There were employed the Black slaves who stayed in completely isolation. The owners come to the coast from Cartago only two times a year.

Cocoa was the first source of wealth in the country, the long before the coffee was brought. At the end of the century the plantation importance droped due to the freguent pirates invasions, Indians attacks from Nicaragua and spanish authorities decrees about the obligation of humanitarian treatment of Indians in the plantation.

Tabacco and cotton

At the end of XVII century the cotton and tabacco export increased. In some parts the cocoa plantations are converted into tabacco ones. In 1787 Guatemala granted for Costa Rica the exclusive dealing of tabacco. Nevertheless, in 1792 it was canceled due to the bad quality of that plant.

2004; SLUPSK; Rafal Cezary Piechocinski