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San Jose (or Chepe as it`s called by Costa Ricans) is the capital of Costa Rica. It`s inhabited by around 900.000 inhabitants. Thanks to its unusual architecture and the landscapes it`s called the most beautiful capital in Central America. It`s situated in Meseta Central at the level of 1.140 metres. It`s main administrative and cultural centre of the country.


It was set up on 21th of May 1737 as Villa Nueva Boca del Monte. That was the third town in the world that installed public electric lighting and one of the first with the telephones.


San Jose is laid out on a grid: avenidas (avenues) run east and west; calles (streets), north and south.

Avenidas north of the Avenida

Central have odd numbers, and those to the south have even ones. On the western end of the city, Avenida Central becomes Paseo Colón; on the eastern end, it's an equally busy, though nameless, four-lane boulevard. Calles to the east of Calle Central have odd numbers; those to the west are even.


Costa Ricans do not use street addresses. Instead, Ticos use an archaic system ofdirections that makes perfect sense to them, but tends to confuse foreigners. A typical Tico address could be 200 m north and 50 m east of the Correos (Post Office). The key to interpreting such directions is to keep track of east and west, and remember that a city block is 100 m (330 ft) long.


The beginning of th town

In XVIII century Spaniards recalled about Costa Rica and began its further colonization. In 1730`s, in the place of nowadays town, there were scattered some small settlements, among others Asseri, Barva, Escazu, Curridabad, Pacaca. Inhabitants of Asseri proposed to build the chapel in central point. The perfect place for that seemed to be Villa Nueva Boca del Monte. On building it, the Saint John parish was set up. Soon, around the chapel 11 tiled and 15 thatched houses have been erected. The final date of town foundation is considered 21 May of 1737.

The Iturbite Empire and Ochomogo National War

In 1822 Kreole officer Augustin de Iturbide set up in Mexico his own empire. Costa Rica started pondering over if not to enter to it. On getting the independence, in all centralamerican countries, more important became so called town-countries. In Costa Rica, important role in country politic played four towns of Meseta Central: Heredia, Cartago, San Jose and Alajuela. Two first from them inhabited by conservative aristocracy, were for entering the empire and two remaining ruled by progresive republicans were for partly independence within the shape of Central American Federation. The local quarrels quickly developed into civil war. After a brief battle in the Ochomogo Hills (suberbs of Cartago), the republican forces emerged victorious.

The law "ley de la ambulancia"

It was brought by president Jose Rafael de Gallegos in 1835. It depended on four-years capital rotation between four Costa Rica towns: Cartago, San Jose, Heredia and Alajuela. It was canceled by Braulio Carillo.

La Liga nacional War and the beginning of capital

In September 1835, the opposing party, formed by Heredia, Alajuela and Cartago's local forces, attacked San José in what later became to be known as Guerra de la Liga (La Liga Civil War). One of the main reason for that was discontent of clergy with cancelling the tithes. This armed conflict was won by San José, who then became the capital of Costa Rica, and it remained that way ever since.

The earthquake in Meseta Central

On March, 18th of 1851, a strong earthquake hit Costa Rica. Many public and private buildings in San Jose, Cartago and Heredia were destroyed. In Heredia the structure of Catedral got to be out of balance.

The National Theater foundation

The immediate reason for building the national theater was omission Costa Rica by world known primadonna Adelina Patti during her tournee through Central America. There wasn`t enough place for her performance. It influenced on coffee barons ambitions. In 1890 they agreed the special export tax, which was used for paying foreign and european architects, buildings materials (iron from Belgium, marble from Italy), decorators. But during of three years, they managed to gathered only 5 % of wanted sum of money. That`s why in 1893 the new tax was put and was obligatory for all inhabitants. Finally the building was erected in 1897.

Irazu volcano eruptionOn March 19th of 1963 the catastrophic Irazu volcano eruption happened. The cloud of ashes and steam was shoot upwards and that covered the capital with 13-centimeters thick layer of mud.

Theaters and cinemas

Costa Rica in 1960`s was the only Central American country with theater.

Theater Melico Salazar

[Av.2/calle Central]. One of two the most known theaters in Costa Rica. It is in front of the Central Park. It was built in 1799 and served at the beginning as the municipal tenement-house. On that time the park on which it stood was called Plaza Real. In 1828 it was destroyed by earthguake and rebuilt from stone elements.

During terms of Juan Rafael Mora, it was converted into his main office. In 1849 Mora moved there his new army. There were the ammunition, cannons and guns. The traces of that were being finding many years after that (the cannons hiden beneath the floor have been found in one of the rooms).

On July 18th of 1918, the building again changed its functions and became the school for boys. In 1924 the earthquake seriously damaged its construction, and the school became empty. A few years later after romoving the ruins, the new owner of that surface was Jose Raventos. He wanted to build the theater, that could rival with National Theater. The new building was designed by Costa Rica architect. On putting up the building (7.X.1928) with 2250 seats, was called the Raventos Theater. The first operetta that was played was titled "Kiss me", and the title role belonged to Esperanza Iris. In subsiguent years the first silent films started to be produced. The good luck for theater ended in 1967, when during stage adaptation of "Dracula", the fire destroyed its interior.

In 1970`s, the cultural elite of San Jose bought and renovated it giving the name of "the Popular Theater". The renovation ended up in 1976 and soon after that the quarrel about its name started again. Some people wanted to call it just The Municipal Theater. Others suggested to change it for Melico Salazar Theater (famous Costa Rica tenor). The latter idea won and since 1980 it has been called that way. During renovation, workers from spanish Museum of Art added the third floor, rebuilt the stage, the dais for orchestra, strengthen Corinthian columns, balconies and completed many reliefs. The number of seats was reduced to 1000. The velvet curtains have been brought from Spain. On 13 December of 1981, the theater started to functione again, producing a performance called "the Carmen". The theater season lasts from April to December.

Theater Nacional

[Av.2/calle 3-5]. It`s situated in the south-west corner of the Culture Square. Its building was initiated at the end of XIX century by coffee barons, who agreed for special tax from each coffee bag. It was because the world famous prima donna Adelina Patti during her tournee through Central America, overlooked Costa Rica due to the lack of proper place for performing. The building was designed by architects from Italy, Spain and France. It was built from steel frames protecting it against the earthquakes. Finally, the building was ended up in 1897. In 1965 it was declared the national monument. In 1991 the renovation of that was carried out.

It`s made of sandstone and is a scaled-down of Paris opera. It`s accentuated by arched windows and columned facade (the columns are made of marble brought from Italy). The entrance to the theater is flanked by figures of Bethoven and Spanish dramatist Calderon de la Barca. Three other figures symbolizing of Music, Art and Literature, are put on triangular top. The whole is covered by domed roof. The interior is destinguished by sumptuous hall, marble steps, golden and bronze finishes, tropical woods, crystallic chandeliars, mirrors and picture. On the ceiling, there is a fresco featuring the banana loading for boat, painted by Arturo Fontana. On the second level is a ceiling painting by Italian artists Aleandro Villa, entitled Alegoria. In the theater rooms, there is a cafe Ruisenor offering coffee, sandwiches and cakes.

Theater of Eugene O`Neill

The third largest theater in Costa Rica. It hosts Costa Rican performing arts, as well as from the United States and from other cultures. It has 314 seats.

Cinema of Variedades

[Av. Central-1/calle 5]. The most known cinema in San Jose. It was founded by a trademan Tomas Garcia in 1891. At the beginning there performed the wandering groups. The popularity it gained after the municipal theater was burned out (today`s Melico Salazar Theater) in 1960`s. It`s designed for 185 viewers. Its name has to do with different artistic events taking place on there (from circus through sorcerers shows to cinema). It has nonchanged facade from the beginning. In 1930, there was shown the first ever in Costa Rica history movie "El Retorno" (that was brought by Don Amando). It`s specialized with showing vanguard films. Annually in there is held the Festival of Costa Rican Movies. In 1904 the Greco company organized there the first cinematographic projection on french Lumiere engine. In 1909 there was chosen a candidate for Republican Party Ricardo Jimenez.

Great Libanon Cinema

[Av.7/calle 8]. It`s a decaying example of the art deco style which led the way to modern architecture with its rectilinear decoration and cement work.


Cathedral Metropolitana

[Av.Central-2/calle 2-4]. It has neoclasic, stone structure and is the biggest church in the capital. It was set up in 1871. (On the same place previously stood the chapel dated to 1827, which became to be a cathedral in 1850). It was designed by Eusebio Rodriguez. It`s destinguished by small corrugated dome, cased windows and corinthian columnes. Its interior has pattern, tiled floor and plenty of reliefs. A chapel placed on the north side of the cathedral has the biggest number of pictures, but is almost always closed. Lately, the cathedral was put to the detailed renovation works, during which all destructions made after the earthquake were repaired. In 1983 the cathedral was visited by Pope Juan Pablo II. That event is commemorated by marble plate. In the underground are burnt two first arsbishops: Llorent and Bernardo A. Thiel, and former president Tomas Guardia. In the south side, there is a XVIII-century Archbishop Palace. In the cathedral garden there is the statue of bishop Bernardo A. Thiel.

Church of La Merced

[Av. 2-4/calle 12]. It`s built in Gothic style with neoclassical elements. The oldest church in San Jose. It was designed by Lesmes Jimenez Bonnefil. It`s destinguished by sculpted wooden ceiling, slender spires and arched windows. It`s faced by high, ornate, concrete wall. The main entrance is a part of a high tower topped by the pointed arch dome. It`s fronted by Braulio Carillo Park. In 2002 the Ministry of Culture gave 360 mln colones for the renovation of its norhtern nave.

Church of La Soledad

[Av.4/calle 9]. It`s an ecletic structure with two simetrical towers flanking a central atrium dated to 1909. In the niches of both towers are put the statuettes. In the center part of fasade there are two columns and the steps that lead to the interior. It`s destinguished by stain glasses brought from Switzerland. Its bells and organs date to the beginning of the century. It`s fronted by a tiny square with Guanacaste tree and a bust of Carlos Guardia. There the concerts are performed. The high ceiling is propitious to good acoustics.

Church of El Carmen

[Av. Central/calle 3]. It`s one nave church that has short, two-sided roof and three big arched entrances, separated from each other by huge doubled pilasters. It doesn`t have the significal front-wall. It has a protuberant mould and ornate fronton. It`s grayish-white. Firstly the terrain belonged to brothers and sisters of Geronima y Maria Concepcion Quiros y Castro. The first church in that place was built in 1841. In 1860`s, when in Costa Rica was a cholera epidemy, and people promised to themselves that if it will pass away, they will carry the statuette of Black Christ. It was ordered in Guatemala, is made of mahogany and is put on the altar. In the last sunday of August it is carried in parade.

Templo Biblico

[Av.2-4/calle 6]. It`s a corner, two-storeyed pink-creame building. It has rectangular windows (largest on the first ground and tiny on upper one). It`s devided by pilasters and is topped by simple attic (some windows of upper ground are devided by large inscriptions). The main arch-entrance is put on calle 6. Along that is also the larger part of building which has same-size windows and is topped by triangular fronton.

Church of Santa Teresita

[Av. 9/calle 29]. It was built in 1930`s. One nave, white church. Above the main entrance is hang the balcony supported on each corner by four columned structures. It`s accented with high quite narrow dome in back side. The fasade wall is devided by pilasters and stood out with rectangular windows topped by triangular tops. On the roof is put the figure of Santa Teresita.

Church of Dolorosa

[Av.10-12/calle Central]. It`s one-naved copy of San Juan cathedral in Puerto Rico. It was made in neobaroque style. It`s destinguished with arched arcades devided each other by doubled columns. On the frontons on the sides of dome there are statuettes of angels. It is adorned by balusters and is destinguished also by the clock put under the dome.


Museum of Children

It`s situated at the north end of calle 4. It resembles a castle building. It dates to 1848 and as resently as 1989 served as the prison for 4.000 men. Since 1994 the museum. It`s distinguished by two half-rounded towers-rysalites and outstanding attic. There are 34 rooms each with different theme. There are exhibits that include a planetarium and rooms dedicated to astronomy, planet earth, Costa Rica, ecology, science, human beings, and communications.

Museum of Jades

[Av.7/calle 9-11]. It is named in honour of the founder Marco Fidel Tristan Castro, who initiated the purchase of the jade collection. It`s on the 11th floor of the Institute for National Security, at Francisco Morazan Park. The exhibit in this museum is the largest American jade collection in the world. There are shown also musical instruments, bows and arrows, an aerial photo of the Guayabo Archeological Site and replica of 14th century Tang Dynasty ceramic horse. Many exhibits come from a private collection of Carlos Balsen.

Museum of Atlantic Railway

[Av.3/calle 21]. It was opened on May 1993 and is in the former railway station building dated to 1907. Contains a display of pictures and documents referred to famous "jungle train". Outside there is a steam engine that was brought in 1939 from Philadelphia.

Museum of Indigenous Art

It`s situated in Los Yoses quarter. There is the collection of pre-Columbian jewelry, art, ceramics, and artifacts. There are also pitch-gold, emeralds, and semi-precious stones for sale. Today the building is used for fairs and concerts. It stands out with wood carvings on the walls and ceiling.

Museum of Criminology

[Av.6-8/calle 21]. It is situated in the building of Supreme Court. There are exhibitions of weapons, tools of crimes, counterfeit lottery tickets and money, drug paraphernalia, also illegaly aborded fetus and black-white pictures featuring for example quartered bodies. That was established in 1981.

Museum of Costa Rican Art

[Calle 42}. It was established in 1977. It is in former building of airport terminal in the eastern edge of La Sabana Municipal Park. There are presented art and paintings from XIX and XX century. It houses two pernament halls: golden salon that depicts Costa Rica history on great bronze-painted stucco and plaster ornament relief murals, and the second salon Juan Manuel Sanchez`s, where there are 500 stone and wood sculptures. On the first ground there is an exhibition of French artist Louis Ferron, featuring the history of Costa Rica. In front of the museum there is the Park of Centenary where are put the monument of Juan Carlos I and ex-president Leon Cortes.

Museum Nacional

[Av.Central-2/calle 15-17]. It is situated on the Square of Democracy. The building`s origin dates back to 1916. Till 1949 that was called Fort Bellavista, and housed the government barracks. Now there is so called the golden room, that was sponsored by banana company of United Fruit.

The inner gardened courtyard is devoted for exhibitions of precolumbian objects, historical dresses, colonial furnituries, presidencial portraits and mastadon tooth. There are shown matates (Chorotegas Indian stone tables for corn crushing). The documents of granting in 1987 the Peace Nobel Prize for president Oscar Arias Sanchez are placed there as well. The court of museum is also opened for public. There are a few cannons and big rounded balls dug out in south-east part of the country.

Museum of Natural Science

Opened in 1959, it`s located near the south-west corner of La Sabana Metropolitan Park, at Colegio La Salle (in the Ministry of Agriculture complex). There are featured stuffed animals, whale skeleton, model of big leatherback turtle, selection of pinned butterflies, tons of crumby fossils and various bottles containing sea urchins, octopi, human fetuses and bats. There is also an Indian archeology display. On the island on the foyer lives a crocodile.

Museum of Contemporary Arts

It`s situated in former National Liquor Factory. There are held international and national paintings, sculptures and industry art exhibitions.

Museum of Numismatic

[Av.Central/calle 5]. Named after Jaime Solera Benett. It`s situated in the underground of Plaza de la Cultura, in the long narrow room with thick vault doors. It provides a survey of the money and coins of Costa Rica and an explanation of how the money developed. It includs the exhibitions of 1000-colones dating to 1969 and examples of the country`s colourful paper money, first issued in 1864.

Museum of Gold

[Av. Central/calle 5]. Named after Alvaro Vargas Echeveria. It`s situated in the underground of Plaza de la Cultura and is fronted by the vault doors. It was built and owned by the Costa Rica`s Central Bank in 1982. It encompasses the second largest collection in America of precolumbian pieces of gold (over 1.600 pieces at all weighing in at 622 kg). The exhibits of figures of frogs, jaguars, sharks, snakes, lobsters are hung on thin lines and give the impression of soaring in the air. There are tons of birds of prey and crocodiles figures (the last ones carry the pathetic dangling legs of humans). Costa Rica Indians, 1000 years before Columb arriving were the most advanced in producing the goods from gold.

Museum of Printing

It`s situated in Barrio Uruca and was founded in 1985. There are the collections of printing presses, type setting machines, type-faces and other related objects representing the history of printing in Costa Rica during the last 150 years.

Museum of Rafael Angel Calderon Guardia

[Av.11/calle 25]. It is placed in Barrio Escalante. It was established in 1991. Is housed in an adobe building dated to 1912. Inside are featured the items related with life and achievements of ex-president Rafael Calderon Guardia [1940-1944]. In the years of 1985 - 1994 the building underwent the complete renovation.


Hotel del Rey

That neoclassical building is located near Francisco Morazan Park at Av. 1 and C 9. It dates from 1940`s and is painted in pink and white. It`s 5-story, has flat roof, light rysalites with arched windows, 104-room structure. Between fourth and fifth ground it has the tarrace surrounded by adorn baluster. It`s a National Heritage Treasure. That was restored in 1994.

Hotel Gran

It overlooks Square of Culture and Square of Juan Rafael Mora. It`s one of the most known hotels in Costa Rica, built in 1930. It`s three-fasades on rectangular-base, has four floors and the last one is separated from the others. Its roof is short and two-sided. Its fasade stands out for balconies-dummies. In the arcaded first-ground funciones the Paris Restaurant, from which terrace one can observe the street life.

Hotel La Aurora

Modern, the highest (17-storey) hotel in San Jose along the northern edge of Francisco Morazan Park. It has a form of glassed, slender box that stands on protuberant foundation. The fasade is devided into five vertical parts by the concrete frames. The few lower layers are enclosed by massive buttresses that hold the advanced moulds. It has the system protecting against the earthquakes.It consists of 201 rooms. It`s ranked to have the highest casino in the world (on 17th floor).

Hotel Barcelo Amon Plaza

Large, 4-storey square base building in Barrio Amon. It dominates over calm residencial street. It stands out with smooth plaster (without any adorness), large rectangular windows and many "wykuszes" topped by frontons. It has 90 rooms inside.

Hotel Santo Tomas

It`s 100 % mahogany and is situated in Barrio Amon. It was built in 1910 by a coffee plantator family. It`s one-storey building with veranda in the entrance. The roof is distinguished by loocarens. It has twenty high ceiling rooms, embellished with King Louis XV furniture and Persian rugs. The interesting original ventilations system built into the ceilings is still in use. It was to be bulldozed in the past in order to expand the Aurolas's Hotel parking lot.

Hotel Heminguay Inn

It`s placed on the corner of Avenida 9 and calle 9. It`s two storey solid-looking1930`s house owned and operated by a Canadian environmentalist. It has rectangular windows, flat roof and protuberance foundation. It stands out with corner wooden veranda on the second floor.

Hotel Don Carlos

It`s situated on Calle 9 and Avenida 7/9 and encompasses three elegant buildings connected by courtyards and terraces. It was founded by Carlos Balser - a Liechteinstainer, an art collector and major contributor to the jade collection of the country. (Previously it was built as a residence of Thomas Guardia. It consists of 40 rooms and combines the stylistic mannerism of art deco with neoclassical forms. It has 272-hand-painted tile-mural located in its main lobby (it features the area of San Jose in the turn of century). It stands out with indoor patio and pre-Columbian themed garden. It has gift shop and courtyard café complete with fountain and walls with pre-columbian masks.

Hotel L`Ambience

(Previously Hotel Aloki). It`s situated in Calle 13 and Avenidas 9/11. Manor house that has an interior patio with a corridor and fountain. It`s destinguished by some finedetalling with precious woods in the flooring, ceiling and baseboard. It consists of 6 rooms.

Municipal parks

Park Central

[Av. 2-4/calle Central-2]. (Tomas Guardia Square). It`s punctated by tall Royal palms and other exotic trees (among others one Guanacaste) and has an ornate fountain, concrete benches and spider-like kiosko (something like a stage), where on every sunday concerts are held. The donator of that structure was former Nicaragua dictator Anastasio Somoza. A few years back in a referendum, inhabitants of San Jose decided about not pulling down it. Beneath the kiosko there is a Carmen Lyra Children`s Library and has been put since 2004 an ornate flagpole. At the northern park edge at across the street there is a Melico Salazar Theater, and old famous in Costa Rica Soda Palace (resaturation).

Park of Braulio Carillo

[Av.2-4/calle 12-14]. (Park Merced). It`s situated in front of La Merced church. Has 1,3 metre precolombian stone sphere, the statue of former president Braulio Carillo and Gothic arch-shaped fountain. There is also a monument honoring the astronomer Copernicus. It`s covered by high palms and agavas. In the southern edge of park there is a factory of beer and in the western one - the hospital of San Juan de Dios.

Park of Francisco Morazan

[Av.3-5/calle 5-9]. It`s devided into four plots. In the middle stands the neoclassic kiosko that serves as the band-shell. In its north-west side rise tabebuiba trees, that bloom in dry season. To the southern part are stuck two historical houses. In north-east corner, in front of the metal building, there is a fountain. The park is overshaded by La Aurora Hotel (the highest hotel in town). It`s scattered by the statues and busts (Bernardo Soto Alfaro, Bernardo O`Higgins).

It`s surrounded by the long concrete benches that serve as the fence with iron, ornate gates. In 1998 a 3,5 metres of height bronze statue of Costa Rica president from 1974 - 1978 Daniel Oduber Quiros was erected. That way his participation in social country development was commemorated. The monument was made by Costa Rica artist Olger Villegas. In 1992 park was landscaped with lawns and benches.

Park of Spain

[Av.3-7/calle 9-11]. (Park of Expression). Shady, little park accentuated by the transplanted from around the country tropical trees. There the monument of conquistador Juan Vasquez de Coronado, Simon Bolivar and a large fountain are destinguished. There are the tableaus devoted for Manuel Gonzalez Zeledon from 1964, Aquileo J. Echeveria (1966), for the memory of the members of balet of Dona Caralia de Romero who have been killed in catastrophe in Choluteca (Honduras) in 1969. In the western part there is also a big tebleau from 1978 about the first singing of national hymn at that place by children in 1903. In its south-western corner there is a former liquor factory that in 1994 was converted into the National Centre of Culture. At the western side of the park there is so called Metal Building. To the North is the Institute for National Insurance building. In the northeast corner is placed colonial-style tiled tiny chapel with 4 ornated reliefs on each side. In 1994 it was renovated with the help of the Spanish Embassy.

Park of La Sabana

[Av.America/calle 42]. The nation largest urban park in the western San Jose. It`s situated on the place of former (1958) international airport. It has olimpic size swimming-pool, bicycles and jogging cement trails, football, tennis and golf fields. There is also the artificial lake and national football stadium. It`s covered by the maze of trees (among others eucaliptuses) and open grassy areas where Ticos families lay out picnics. Within that in former terminal building there is a National Museum of Costa Rica Art. It is referred to the New York Central Park.

Park Nacional

[Av.1-3/calle 15-19]. (Park de la Estacion). Large, forested park between Avenidas 1 & 3, and Calles 15 and 19. It was designed in 1895. In its central part there is situated the National Monument commemorating the succesful fight against american filibustier William Walker in 1856. At the southwest corner is a statue of national hero Juan Santamaria. Besides there are a lot of statues of people involved in the independence of the country (Denis Mora, Aliberto Marten Chavarril, Miguel Idalgo, Don Andres Bello). It`s dominated by high trees on which parakeest abounds. To the south from park there is situated the red building of National Registry and the Electoral Tribunal. On the western side of the park there is the national library.

Park of Diversiones

Disney-style amusement park in La Uruca quarter. There are replicas of the National Liquor Factory, Congressional Building, churches and Costa Rican Banc. It has three sections: capital city, coast, and country (the last one with original adobe structures moved to there).

Park of Peace

53-ha park in southern parts of town. It was created by president Oscar Arias as a sport-recreation centre. It consists of football field, volleyball and basketball fields, 5 kilometres of bicycle routes and an artificial lake. In administration building complex take place a lot of courses. Among them stands so called The Artist Building, where amateur painters show their works. On weekends, in parks many concerts or political lectures can take place.

Park of East

It`s situated in the outskirts of San Jose, three kilometres east of San Pedro quarter. There are children play houses, basket ball courts, volleyball nets, barbecue pits and benches.


National Monument

One of the most known monuments in San Jose. It`s placed in National Park, in the eastern part of town, between 15 and 19 streets and 1 and 3 avenidas. It was made in Paris at the end of XIX century. It symbolizes of brave attitude of Central America, especially Costa Rica in fight against american filibustier William Walker, who wanted in 1856 to take over the entire region. The monument`s building in Paris in the middle of last century was ordered by Costa Rica representative for french sculptor Louis Carrier Bellouse. He made a bronze pedestal on which put seven figures. Five of them symbolize Central American republics, and two others of William Walker and one of his dead soldiers. Costa Rica stands straight in the middle, one hand holds the flag and shows the way for free, and the second hand support wound Nicaragua. The latter one with broken sword, as a agony sign, has a veil on her head. Guatemala holds the axe, El Salwador the sword and Honduras the arch and shield.

On the pedestal there are four reliefs depicting: scenes from Santa Rosa battle, fights in Rivas, the seizing of boats in the San Juan river and human shape of off that time president Juan Rafael Mora Porras. The monument sculpturing was ended up in 1891, and it was brought to Costa Rica a year kater. The solemn unveiling of a monument was on September 15th of 1892. In the ceremony took place different representatives of neighbouring countries. Next to that is situated The Numismatic Museum.

Temple of Music

It`s situated in Francisco Morazan Park. It`s a imitation of The Temple of Love in Versal. That was designed by Francisco Salazar in the place of old, wooden chapel. It come into use on 24th of december of 1920. That was the first building in Costa Rica, that dome was reinforcemented by concrete. Previously that served as the place of meeting for lovers. But later that became a place where concerts and political lectures were held. In 1975 that was expected to be destroyed and instead of that was to be erected the monument of Argentinian singer of Carlos Gardela. Luckily, in the same year the temple was declared the national monument. In 1980 that undergone the solid renovation.


Bishop Palace

[Av. 13/calle 3]. It`s built in 1930 in ornamental Moorish style by Anastasio Herrero. The majority of building materials were brought from Italy and Spain. It`s distinguished by small turrets. It`s decorated with rows of keyhole windows and plaster crenellations. It has strips of hand-painted tails that border the dome. The first owner was Senor Anastasio Herrero. Later was bought by Dona Luz Quiros de Rodriguez, mother of archbishop Carlos Humberto Rodriguez. In 2002 it was granted for grandson of one of bishop`s sisters - Jorge Ignacio Guier Acosta.

House of Jara

[Av.7/calle 5]. (Alianza Francesa). It was designed in 1895 in eclectical style by Jaro family. The design was made by an architect Pirie. One storeyed building. It is in possession of 25-cm thick walls and a metal porch brought from Belgium. Fasade has very large rectangular windows and veranda supported by six thin columnes. From the 4-sided roof emerges the iron lookaren. In the years 1939-1940, the off that time owner Jorge Lara Ireata remodelled that. In 1964 it was abandoned. In 1988 it was declared the national monument and in 1995 it was undergone a complete restoration after buying that by French Cultural Agency.

House of Green

[Av. 9/calle 7]. (Casa Verde). It`s situated in Barrio Amon. It was built around 1910 as a property of Don Carlos Saborio Yglesias (a wealthy owner of a cattle rancho). It`s two storeyed, clapboard building made of red pine from New Orlean on which there are a few elegant aparthaments (Celia Jr., Yglesias, Don Carlos Saborio). It stands out with soaring lounge skylit by stained glass atrium. In 1994 that was declared the best renovated building in the country.

House of Matute

[Av.10/calle 21]. It`s situated in Barrio Los Yoses. It`s a elaborate 1920`s construction purchased in 1935 by a Venezuelan Matute Gomez, who was fleeing political persecution following the fall of his dictator brother in Venezuela. Now it`s a buzzing night spot.

House of Yellow

[Av.7/calle 11]. (Casa Amarilla). It`s situated to the east from Social Security Building, not far from Park of Spain. In front of that a huge La Ceiba tree rises, and that was planted in 1963 during Central America presidents Summit. The building used to be a seat of Foreign Ministry and is painted in yellow. Its interior is also yellow. There are a lot of mirrors. Furnitures and doors are made of dark wood. At the beginning it was placed in Cartago. (The building was completed in December of 1907). It served as the site of the Central American Court of Justice. But soon it was destroyed due to the earthquake, and rebuilt in San Jose thanks to Andres H. Carnegic 100.000 $ donation. It was completed in 1916 with the supervision of architect Henry D. Wiffield. In years of 1966 and 1975 it undergone solid renovation. In 1976 that was declared the national monument. In 1990 the yellow addition was stuck to that.

Metal Building

[Av.5/calle 9]. One of three experimental buildings made of metal, that were put in San Jose on the turn of centuries (1896). It has to do with catastrophic earthquake from 1888. The metal constructions were to save the new buildings from destruction. The process of building was under control of architect Charles Thirion. The metal elements were fabricated by Herrerias De Aisseau company and transported to Costa Rica from Amberes in Belgium. The first segments were shipped to Limon in 1892. (Another version says that it was shipped by mistake to Puntarenas. It was there for about three years before the harbour master sent a letter to the president of C.R.). For many years it was the biggest building in San Jose.

At the beginning that was devided into two parts: school for boys and school for girls. After big earthguake in 1910, there was an hospital for wounded persons. It`s painted in different shades of yellow with pastel moulds. The inside of the building could easely be the outer facade. Outside is accented with a bust of Minerva symbolizing "goddess of wisdom". During its building, around were only fields dominated by moskitos. Now it houses a school of Buenaventura Corrales.

Tenement House of Ortiz

[Av.7/calle 13]. It is a rectangle-base three-floor building, next to the Yellow House. It was built in 1944 by Teodorico Quiros. In its placed firslt were stood famous Victoria Mill. Then the terrain was bought by ex-president Rafael Yglesias. In 1938 new owner ing. Francisco Jimenez Ortiz planned to open the factory of ceramic. It`s distinguished by large, cut corner with adornate attic, half-rounded oriel on which is put the balcony and by corrugated columns. Lately it was a set for the Costa Rican movie "Password".

Tenement House of KLM

[Av.1-3/calle 5]. It was built in 1924. It`s backed from the street and separated from it by concrete fence with iron spans. In front of that is quite big concrete courtyard. It`s two-storeyed building of irregular shape. It`s destinguished by large, ornated top moulds, atticks and buttresses. The most sumptuous is a middle part with delicate compositions in plaster beneath and above window of the first floor.

Tenement House of Honey-cake

[Av.1/calle 5]. Cornered, small, two-storeyed building in baroque style accented by corner tower topped by concrete dome with loocarens. The windows of first floor have the distinct entablature. It`s distinguished by small iron balconies. The fasade is adorned also by pilaster that imitate the Ionic columns and arched windows. (The ornaments resemble the icing on honey-cake). In 2000 the inside of the building was a bit destroyed by fire.

Tenement House of Steinvorth

[Av. Central-Primera/calle1]. At the beginning there was a furniture store "Urgelles y Penon". Now it houses offices and discoteque. Its name derives from the last name of German industrial-man - Heinrich Dietrich Steinvorth. There was carried on the action of telenovela Password.

Tenement House of Herdocia

[Av.3/calle 2]. It`s placed next to the main building. It is four storeyed, corner building with short roof. It dates to the beginning of XX century. It is stood out with 4-sided, corner rysalite with adorned balustered attic on its roof. Floors are devided each other by protuberant moulds. Large, elongated windows are separated by pilasters. On the first floor is run Mc Donald`s restaurance.

Tenement House of Granary

[Av.7/calle 15]. It was designed by Francisco Jimenez de la Guardia around 1920. There is placed an Office for Propagation the French Culture. It`s massive, rectangular-based building. It`s two-storeyed, cut by numerous pilasters building with two-sided roof. Its right side is sunk into the climbing street.

Tenement House of Knorr

[Av. Central/calle 1-3]. It`s two-storeyed building with very marked adorned triangular (and semicircular on the other wall) fronton. The fasade is cut by large pilasters finished in Ionic order. They separate rectangular, large safety-razor blade shaped forms. It was founded by Juan Knorr in 1914.

Tenement House of Arab

[Av.5/calle 7]. It was designed in 1950`s. In 1970`s was added spined ornaments. It stands out with sharp-arched gates and blind doors plus very narrow windows. It`s rectangular-based, one storeyed building. The roof is hided behind attic with corner spines and by triangular fronton.

Tenement House of Las Acacias

[Av. 1 bis/calle 7-9]. It used to belong to family of Max Guardian Rojas. It was built at the beginning of XX century in Victorian style. It`s one-storey building with lookarens in attic. It is destinguished with wooden walls with trimmings made of sheet zinc and with stained-glass windows in fasade. In years 1994 - 1995 there was plan to convert that into Casa de la Cultura. Since 2000 has been registered on the list of historical buildings. Lately has been bought by owners of nearby Hotel del Rey.

Tenement House of La Casona

[Av.Central-1/calle Central]. It was built in 1908. Two storey building. It stands out with arched niches running through entire fasade. In each of them are placed very wide windows and iron ornate tiny balconies. The mould is accented by gigantic keys with mascarones. The entire fasade is rusticated. Primary it was a shop with iron-wires Macaya. Now there is the biggest shop with souvenirs in Costa Rica.

Other places

Central Market

[Av.Central-1/calle 6-8]. That was established in 1881. It`s brick hall with short, sheet metal, two-sided roof. The entrances are placed on the its cut corners. There are boxes and stalls dotted with bunches of flowers, vines, roots, spices and herbs. Some of the cheapest meal in town are served there.

Artesania Market

[Av.2/calle 11]. (Mercado de Artesania). A large brown-stucco building on calle 11 and avenida 2. It was one of the first public markets to organize and display quality Costa Rican handicrafts under one roof. It`s the largest stockist of souvenirs and crafts in the country. There one can buy baskets, butterflies, and flowers made from woven fiber or rope.

El Pueblo-the Shopping Center

It is placed in Barrio Tournon (to the north from the town centre), opened on 15 September of 1977. It was designed by Spaniard Francisco Prospero after the example of old colonial spanish town with cobbled streets, wrought-iron lamps and historic low houses with red tiled roofs and balconies full of flowers. There are a lot of bars, restaurances and discotegues. It`s full of people especially in weekend evenings.


[Av.1/calle 9-11]. There are presented different species of reptiles and amphibians, among others snake terciopelo (responsible for the half of snakes bites in Costa Rica), Jesus Christ Basiliscues, Iguanas, Boa constrictors, seas snakes, poisnous dart frogs and being egsotic in Costa Rica cobras and pythones. There is a also a large fish-pool with piranhas.

Spirogyra-the butterfly garden

It`s situated close to the El Pueblo shopping centre. It sticks to the northern edge of Simon Bolivar Zoo. The entrance for that is situated in Barrio Tournon. Its name in latin means "the butterfly". The garden consists of small waterfalls surrounded by orchids and heliconias. It`s covered by net that make it impossible for butterflies to escape. There live blue Morpho butterflies, transparent Espejitos and red, green, yellow and black Heliconius. There are total number of 21 species. Besides there are also colorful humminbirds. On every morning workers pick the butterflies eggs and put them in special boxes devoted for the european collectors.

Zoological Park

It`s situated in Barrio Otoya and is called after Simon Bolivar. It was founded in 1916 and is spreaded on 14 acre surface. Now there are the trials for its renovation. In the majority there are the native species (more than 300 animals and 150 species of plants), but there are also lion and Bengal tiger.


Square of Culture

[Av. Central-2/calle 3-5]. The heart of town. Around are situated the restaurances and bars. It`s often visited by pigeons that are feeded by resting on benches tourists and locals as well. It is also a favored performance spot for local marimba bands, clowns, jugglers, and colorfully dressed South Americans playing Andean music. In the southern part dominates the Nacional Theater. At the western side, across the street there is famous Gran Hotel with 24 hours Paris Restaurant.

Square of Guarantees Sociales

[Av.4-6/calle 5-7]. It covers entirely block. It`s paved with steps and some lawn-bushes areas. Next to there is situated Ministry of Tourism and College of Girls. There is a monument of Rafael Angel Calderon Guardia.

Square of Liberty

[Av.13/calle 7-9]. It was designed in 1994. There are six high columned structure in crescent shape linked together by the protuberant mould. There stands the new electoral Tribunal building. It features a chunk of the Berlin Wall donated by the German Government. There is also a plaque that commemorates the date when the wall came tumbling down.

Square of Juan Mora Fernandez

[Av.2/calle 3]. It was named after the first chief of state of Costa Rica (1823 - 1829). It`s placed in front of the National Theater and next to Hotel Gran. In the western part it`s limited by the arcade, long, roofed passage that lead to the Hotel Gran. In June 1995 that was reinaugurated after renovation. There is the monument of Juan Mora Fernandez (he hold a sword and have a coat slung over left hand). It stands out with the benches that consists of fat, iron pipes stuck together by clamps. There marimba musicians perfor often.

Square of Quinto Centenary

[Av.Americana/ calle 42]. Named after 500 centenary of discovering America. It`s placed at the edge of La Sabana Municipal Park, in front of the Museum of Costa Rican Arts. There are placed the monuments of Juan Carlos I (made in 1991) and Leon Cortes Castro (1951). It`s paved and there are few bunches cut into the shape of balls. In November of 2001 there starts the parade of oxcart drivers, full of Saint figures.

Square of Democracy

[Av.Central-2/calle 13-15]. It`s located between avenidas Central and Second and the streets 13th and 15th. It`s concrete square with slopes gently up toward the National Museum building. It was ordered by Oscar Arias president in 1989. On the west is a bronze statue of Don Figueres, completed in 1994. It was to be for commemoration of 100 years of democracy in Costa Rica. At its western side there are a lot of market stalls, where T-shirts and other art souvenirs from Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru are sold.

Boulevard of Ricardo Jimenez Oreamuno

The newest boulevard of San Jose (January 15th of 2002). It`s named for homenage of three-times president Ricardo Jimenez Oreamuno (in the beginning of XX). It spreads over 5.000 metres and links the southers edges of Nacional Park and the Tribunal of Justice building. It`s lined with palms and stood out by one precolombian granite ball. It`s paved with red-bricked pavement.

Quarters (Barrios)

Barrio Amon

The oldest San Jose quarter, full of historic houses (in the past belonged to coffee barons), that often are converted into hotels. To the north it`s limited by Torres river and 13th avenida, to the south by 7th avenida, to the east by 9th street and to the west by the Central Street.

That was designed at the end of XIX century by Amon Fasileau Duplantier-a brother-in-law of Hipolit Tournon (a representative of Tournon firm, that derived profits from coffee cultivating). In 1892 Amon suggested that municipal authorities should build the new quarter in San Jose. In January 1894 the contract was entered. Soon to a new quarter the richest inhabitants started to settle, and they were building very elegant houses in different styles (victorian, eclectical, neoclassic and modern). The Association for Quarter Development made the bus traffic in the quarter was moved out.

Barrio Coca Cola

There is the main bus station (it consists of several small bus-stations). It`s considered to be a rough zone. There sometimes appear young street criminals known popularly as "chapulines". It used to be a site of Coca Cola bottling facility.

Barrio Los Yoses

Semi-residencial quarter in the east part of town. It`s full of increasing number of first class hotels, restaurances and also up-scale shopping malls. There is a historic Casa de Matute. It`s the quarter with the biggest concentration of apartotels in capital.

Barrio Mexico

It`s spreaded to the north of Avenida 7, west of Calle 16. It`s working-class area. The most historic building there is an old church.

Barrio Otoya

Less version of Barrio Amon (to the east of that). It was built when Barrio Amon was overcrowded. It`s full of houses of turn-of-the century. There is a plan to make a renaissance of that area as the region of choice for intellectuals and nouveau riche. There is situated the Zoologico Garden.

Barrio Rohrmoster

The western quarter of San Jose, full of elegant houses including many ambassadors` residents. It is bordered by Rio Torres on the nothern side and by highway 104 to the south. On January 2000 there was a crush of the touristic plane.

Barrio Don Bosco

(Barrio Paseo Colon). Important western extension of Avenida Central. A large number of car rentals and airline companies have headquarter there.

Barrio San Pedro

The easternmost quarter of San Jose. Within that is situated the University of Costa Rica. In the Music Department there is the Entomologic Museum with the insects exhibits. There is put the fountain that used to stand at the Central Park (it features the child holding the neck of heron). There are a lot of bars and restaurants for youth. There is situated the Flag Monument put in the centre of rond-point. In the quarter there are also the biggest in Central America shopping mall (San Pedro Mall). It`s 8-stored building, looking as if to be carved into the rock. The fifth and sixth floor has "Planet Mall", the largest disco in Central America.

Barrio Escalante

The wealthiest barrio in San Jose. It spreads on the eastern part of San Jose, within calles 31-37 and avenida 13 on the north side. It`s filled with small farms, gardens, and the houses of coffee barons. Houses are surrounded by wrought iron fences that limit ginger, coffee, pineapple and coconut plants.

Barrio Cuba

(Barrio Hospital). It`s spreaded within calle 18 and 24. It borders on the north side with cementerio general and on the south is devided by Rio Maria Aquilar. On August 29th 2002 it was flooded by that river. It is also on a fire red alert list.

Universities and schools

University of Costa Rica

It`s situated in Barrio San Pedro, (the eastern part of San Jose). In the Music Department there is the Entomologic Museum with the insects exhibits.

Colegio de Senoritas

[Av.4-6/calle 3-5]. It`s one of the oldest school. That was built in 1886 (and was the most expensive building ever constructed in the country). It was designed by Lesmes Jimenez Bonnefil. There used to be the Nacional Registery. It`s placed on the Square of Guarantees Sociales, and covers almost the entire block. Different parts of building has 4-sided roofs. The front fasade along calle 5 is two storeyed and is devided into three parts: two sided and the central backed. It has rectangular, framed windows (in the centralpart arched-ones). It`s destinguished by protuberant top and inner-storey moulds. The central part is faced by small courtyard limited by iron fence.

Liceo de Costa Rica

[Av.18/calle 9-11]. It served at the beginning as prison. Since 1887 it has been used as school (the second oldest high school in Costa Rica). On its background is placed the statue of former president Ricardo Jimenez Oreamuno. In 1981 registered as historical building.


Banco National

[Av. Central-1/calle 2-4]. There used to be the Square of Artilleria and the area at the eastern wall used to be occupied by St. Joseph chapel, and there is a conviction that it is the site from which the town was born. It`s skyscraped building. The beton starcase in the center devided it into two parts. The structure is closed by the concrete frames that encompass the rows of windows (each of window is hided deep into the concrete surface). By the western wall of the bank there is a bronze sculpture of 12 Costa Rica farming people.

Building of CAJA

[Av.4/calle 5-7]. Many-storey building with futuristic, concrete facade. It`s nonsymmetrically cut by single or put in rows window. In some parts it`s distinguished by typical framework (vertical and horizontal concrete beams). It`s a seat of Costa Rica Tourist Board.

Factory of Liquor

[Av. 5-7/calle 11]. It`s situated next to the Park of Spain. It used to be the National Factory of Liquor, and now houses the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport. The main building was built in 1856. It`s one-storey on rectangular base along the street. It has short, two-sided roof, arched windows, ornated stone gate and iron grating with four pilasters on which is put the triangular fronton with the clock inside. There is also the National Centre of Culture with Gallery of Contemporary Arts. The complex comprises of two theaters, three art galleries, library and live cultural activities. On the west side of building is old sun clock. There is also a machinery and equipment operating as it used to.

Hospital San Juan de Dios

[Paseo Colon-Av.6/calle 14-20]. On the surface of few blocks spread the massive structures of hospital San Juan de Dios and The Children Hospital (at the second one, at Christmas time the Children's has a massive illuminated tree). The San Juan de Dios is 2 or 3-storey long building spreaded along the streets. It was established in 1845.

Legislative Assembly

[Av. Central/calle 17]. The Moorish style building close to the Democracy Square. It was built in 1912 by presidencial candidate Maximo Fernandez. In 1914 he lost and lent his home - known as the Blue Castle - to President ellect Alfredo Gonzalez Flores. The building was a private residence between 1954 - 1989. Today it houses the Legislative Assembly.

Post Office

[Av.1-3/calle 2]. Two-leveled, rectangular-based building. It was designed in 1917 by Luis Llach. It has the arched windows of ground floor and is topped by triangles in the first floor. It`s distinguished by three gated entrance, massive fronton and attic. On the first floor there is established in 1985 the Museum of Stamps with historic telegraphs and telephones (there is presented among others Penny Black - the oldest Costa Rica stamp dated back to 1963). In 1980 the building was declared the national monument. Opposite the post office is a small park shaded by massive fig trees.


1737 -21th of May, San Jose has been founded.

1755 -Inhabitants of Escazu are obligated by court to moved to modern capital of the country.

1781 -In San Jose has been established Royal Canopy Monopoly firm.

1783 -The terrain of today La Sabana Municipal Park in San Jose has been given as free pasures for the cattle of the porest inhabitants.

1835 -September;, San Jose is attacked by three other towns and the second national war in Costa Rica history outbroke (the league war).

1844 -The hospital San Juan de Dios has been established.

1848 -The prison in San Jose (now the Museum of Children) is erected.

1851 -The earthquake in Meseta Central destroyed buildings in San Jose, Cartago and Heredia.

1852 -The Fabrique of Licores in San Jose has been founded.

1871 -The beginning of building the Cathedral Metropolitana in San Jose.

1886 -The Colegio de Senoritas was built. (The most expensive building at that time constructed in Costa Rica).

1887 -The Fort Bellavista (now Nacional Museum building) has been built.

1888 -National Costa Rica Library in San Jose has been built.

1888 -The strike of chineans, jamaican and Italian workers employed in building of railway.

1890 -During her tournee through Central America, world famous primadonna Adelina Patti dismissed Costa Rica due to the lack of proper place for permorming. It`s the immediate reason for building the National Theater.

1892 -Amon Fasilean Duplantier suggested for government for government creating the new quarter of the capital. (Barrio Amon).

1893 -The new tax for the building of National Theater. (1 cent for each kilogram of import good).

1894 -Santa Cecilia de Musica school is founded on the place of former National School of Music.

1896 -The building of Metal Building has been finished.

1897 -21th of Ictober, The finishing of building of National Theater.

1907 -December., The Casa Amarilla in San Jose in built.

1909 -The church of La Merced has been built.

1912 -The Blue Palace (today the Legislative Assembly) has been built.

1916 -The Zoo in San Jose has been established.

1917 -The main post-office building has been built.

1920 -24th of December., The Temple of Music was built in square of Melico Salazar in San Jose.

1921 -28th February; A bishop in San Jose is established.

1935 -A Venezuelan Matute Gomez has purchased the elaborate house in Barrio Los Yoses. (Today House of Matute).

1917 -The opening of International Airport of La Sabana in San Jose.

1959 -The museum of Natural Science was opened.

1963 -The eruption of Irazu Volcano. San Jose was covered by the thick layer of ash.

1963 -19th of March. Irazu volcanoe eruption. In effect, Meseta Central was covered by thick layer of ashes and lava.

1965 -The National Theater is admitted to be the national monument.

1966 -In Park of Spain in San Jose was erected the tableau for a poet Aquileo J. Echeveria.

1966 -The Municipal Park of La Sabana has been created.

1972 -The completely liquidation of La Sabana International Airport.

1975 -The Music Temple in Francisco Morazan square has been declared the national monument.

1976 -Casa Amarilla (Yellow House) is declared the national monument.

1977 -15th of September; The El Pueblo commercial center in San Jose has been established.

1980 -The post-office building in San Jose has been declared the national monument.

1981 -The Museum of Criminology has been found.

1985 -The Museum of Numismatic has been founded in post office building.

1989 -The prison has been converted into the Museum of Children.

1995 -26th of July, protests in San Jose of teachers and employees of government agencies calling for raising salaries.

1996 -In San Jose was iniciated the Festival de la Luz.

1998 -The statue of Daniel Oduber Quiros has been erected.



San Jose


National parks
Fauna i flora


San Jose - capital of Costa Rica
Volcanos of Costa Rica
Biographies of Costa Rica`s presidents
Costa Rica`s encyclopedia from A through L till Z
Hitoy-Cerere Biological Reserve
Volcan Tenorio - the least known volcano of Costa Rica
Gallery of Costa Rica places
Bananas of Costa Rica
Poland - Costa Rica (the current and historic relations between two nations)


„Ticos don`t be sad” – article in The Tico Times (VII.2010)

„A polish in love with Costa Rica - the story of Rafal Cezary Piechocinski” – article from CR`s Pocket Cultures (26.IV.2012)

„Pasión a primera vista” – article from Costa Rica newspaper La Nacion (17.IX.2006)

© 1998-2017; SŁUPSK; Rafał Cezary Piechociński