Walk through San José
The city that is known today as San José came into being as a small town around the middle of the XVI century. This area was known as the Aserrí Valley and was comprised of extensive grasslands with an altitude measuring between 3,600 and 4,100 ft. The main waterways are the Tiribí, Torres, María Aguilar and Ocloro rivers.
A chapel that was built in 1737 on the site known as ¨La Boca del Monte,¨ marked the emergence of the town. In 1738, it was consecrated and dedicated to the Patriarch Saint Joseph.
In 1776, a new adobe style church was constructed, which over time became known as the Metropolitan Cathedral. In 1783, according to a census at that time, Boca del Monte was home to 4,869 inhabitants: 577 Spaniards; 3,664 Mestizos, and 628 Mulattos, located in the city, neighborhoods, and surrounding towns.
Tobacco Farming began in the outskirts of San José in the second half of the XVII century, which generated revenue and led to economic development and strengthening of San José´s political role within the province. In 1813, Costa Rica´s representative in the Court of Cádiz, the FatherFlorencio del Castillo, oversaw and obtained the title of ¨City¨ for San José. On September 15th, 1821, Costa Rica gained independence from Spain, which created a power struggle over which should be the capital among the four main cities of the Central Valley: San José, Alajuela, Heredia, and Cartago. This tense situation led to two armed confrontations: the Ochomongo War of 1823 and the La Liga War of 1835. In the end, San José was declared the capital of the republic.
The construction boom was due in large part to well-known competing foreign architects, such as Franz Kurtze, Ludwing von Shamier, and Franz Rohrmoser, who were responsible for the most important construction project of the era.
1. Our Lady of Sion Building
Located on Central and 1st Avenue, 17th and 19th Street
In 1879, members of the Religious Order of Sion came to the country at the request of General Tomás Guardia in order to work on education reform in the city of Alajuela. In 1880, they moved to San José and between 1883 and 1887, they built a girls school and a convent for the Religious Order. This group of buildings was built in neoclassic style, which, over time, has lost much of its original historical relevance. The Pavilion rooms and the convent were built in brick over granite stone base. The chapel is made of re-enforced concrete with a medium point vaulted arch. All the work was overseen by Pedro Albertazzi. This educational center played an important role in the education of females during this time. In 1960, theSion High School was transferred to Moravia and in 1969 the State took over the property and installed various public offices that currently form part of the Legislative Assembly.
2. Castillo Azul (The Blue Castle)
Located on Central Avenue, 17th Street
This magnificent neoclassic residential home was constructed in 1908 by the lawyer and well-known politician Máximo Fernández. In 1914, the housing project was rented to the State to be used as the presidential home from 1914 to 1923, and was inhabited by various presidents, such as Alfredo González Flores, Federico Tinoco Granados, Francisco Aguilar Barquero, and Julio Acosta García. In 1923, it was sold to the US government to be used for the North American Legion. In 1854, it was then acquired by Dr. Carlos Manuel Gutiérrez Cañas, and in 1989, it was taken over by the Legislative Assembly serving as a branch of the Legislative Directory.
The Castillo Azul was constructed in re-enforced concrete and is famous for its detailed finishes, tastefulness, and quality of the materials. The plans and technical specifications were provided by the Casa Hennebique, in Paris, France, and the construction itself was carried out by the contractor Alfredo Andreoli. There are two versions to the origins of the name of the building. The first is that the flag of the political party of Máximo Fernández was the same color, and the second version is that the building once had a bluish tinted glass dome that was destroyed in 1923 by the military uprising known as the ¨Bellavistazo.¨
Tel: 2243-2545 Public Relations Office. Web: www.asamblea.go.cr
3. The Legislative Assembly
Located on Central and 1st Avenue, 15th Street
In the 1920´s, Cristina Castro, widow of Kieth, donated this property to the Temporalities of the Catholic Church in order to build a temple on it. However in 1927, the then president Ricardo Jiménez did not authorize the construction due to its proximity to the Bellavista barracks. In 1939, the president León Cortés Castro bought the land from the church in order to build the presidential home there. Work began that same year in neoclassic style by the architect José María Barrantes. The re-enforced concrete structure with an iron framed roof experienced several setbacks during its construction due to the lack of concrete and other materials during the Second World War. In 1957, it was finished and then was occupied by the Legislative Assembly instead of its original plan as a presidential home.
Tel: 2243-2545 Public Relations Office. Web: www.asamblea.go.cr
4. Costa Rican National Museum
Located on Central and 2nd Avenue, 15th and 17th Street
In 1870, the German naturalists, Alexander Von Frantzius, constructed his home in the area known as ¨Buenavista¨ due to its panoramic view of San José. In 1876, it was acquired by Mauro Fernández. It was vacant between 1910 and 1914 and was then bought by the government of Alfredo González Flores in order to turn it into a military barracks. In 1917, this project was carried on by Federico Tinoco. Between 1928 and 1932, it was finally transformed into a military barracks. The Bellavista Barracks faded out as an institution due to the constitutional decree of the abolition of the military in 1949 and was dedicated as the facility for the National Museum.
The museum displays a part of its collections in two halls: one is Pre-Colombian history and the other is displays the history of Costa Rica.
Business hours: From Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 to 4:30. Closed Mondays.
Tel.: (506) 2257-1433 Web: www.museocostarica.go.cr .
5. Plaza de la Democracia
Located on Central and 2nd Avenue, 13 bis and 15th Street
This plaza was inaugurated on November 7th, 1989 with Americas’ Presidents in attendance. The purpose of the celebration was the centennial celebration of the political events of 1889, when the town demanded respect for the election of José Joaquín Rodríguez as president of the republic, and was bestowed with the name ¨Centenarian of Democracy.¨
The design of the plaza is by Edwin Villata. One of the purposes of the construction was to provide a better visual perspective of the west side of the National Museum. The project as a whole caused some turmoil due to the demolition of some historically valuable residential homes that were on site.
6. The Jade Museum
Located on 13th Street, between Central & 2nd Ave.
Located in its new buiding inaugurated in 2014, the Jade museum exhibits the largest collection of Pre-Colombian Jade in the Americas. Presently, it has a modern exhibition room floor plan, allowing national and foreign visitors easier access to the rich archeological wealth that this museum holds, preserves, and displays. The collection contains artifacts in ceramic, stone, bone, shell, wood, and other materials in its permanent, as well as its seasonal exhibition rooms.
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 10:00 – 17:00.
Tel.: 2521-6610 Web: www.portal.ins-cr.com
7. Methodist Temple
Located on Central Avenue, 9th and 11th Street
On April 26th, 1917, the mission board of the Episcopal Methodist Church, located in Mexico, decided to take on a missionary project in Costa Rica. Therefore, Reverend Miller traveled to Costa Rica in 1919 and acquired a property at the bottom of Cuesta de Moras belonging to Club Catalán. For a short time it served as the Redeemer Baptist Church, until a new church was constructed in 1940 made of brick and mortar.
8. Our Lady of Solitude Church (Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Soledad)
Located 9th Street, 4/6th Ave.
Our Lady of Solitude Church was constructed in the middle of the 19th century, becoming a driving force within the population in the southeast part of the city. It is a distinguished structure built with limestone in baroque style and is one of the most representative structures of the 19th century that is still intact.
9. Dr. Rafael Angel Calderón Guardia Statue
Located in Social Guarantee Plaza 5th Street, 4/6th Ave
A doctor, councilor, and Congressional official, he was elected president of the Republic in 1940. He promoted important social reforms in his time. An elections fraud provoked an armed conflict that kept him in exile for 14 years. He was named “Benemérito de la Patria.”
10. Colegio Superior de Señoritas (Women’s High School)
Located 3th Street, 4/6th Ave.
Women’s Higher Learning School, founded in 1888, is one of the first State buildings established to develop a higher learning plan that marked the beginning of Costa Rican women’s development and has been fully carried out. Years of effort have prepared valuable intellectuals in our society, making it one of the leading learning centers for years after. It is a building of great architectural value, a style that defined Costa Rican construction at the end of the 19th century. The facade is Doric order, overlaid with Corinthian order made from stone. The facade is perfectly balanced, vertically as well as horizontally, which are classical elements of the renaissance.
11. The Good Shepherd Anglican Church
Located on 4th Avenue, 3rd and 5th Street
During the XIX century and into the XX century, England held a strong economic influence over the region in terms of loans to Central American countries. As a consequence, many English businessmen came to Central America and many chapels were set up to feed the spiritual needs of English businessmen and diplomats. In 1867, The Church of Christ was established in Guatemala inside the British embassy and its chaplain also belonged to the diplomatic personnel. In Costa Rica, a treaty between the government and England permitted jurisdiction for chaplains in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador so that they could be relocated from the Church of England to the United States Episcopal Church. Therefore, the Missionary District of the Central American Episcopal Church was created along with the churches of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. David E Richards was its first bishop. Currently, the Church has a presence in three provinces: San José, Heredia, and Limón, where the majority of the churches are located.
E-mail: email@example.com .
12. Plaza de la Cultura and Banco Central Museum
Located on Central and 2nd Avenue, 3rd and 5th Street
The Plaza de la Cultura project came about during the Daniel OduberQuirós administration. Its objective was to create an ample center for artistic, literary, and scientific activities. In 1976, work was underway with the demolition of the buildings next to the National Theater. The design and supervision of the project was under the guise of the architects Edgar Vargas, Jorge Bertheau, Jorge Borbón, and the engineer Samuel Rovinsky. The culture complex was inaugurated on February 26th, 1982 during the Rodrigo Carazo administration. The original plan underwent various and significant changes resulting in three underground levels, some 40 ft. deep. The main areas are occupied by the Pre-Colombian Gold Museum, the Central Bank Coin Collection Museum, a library, an auditorium, and open areas for temporary exhibitions and other events.
Business hours: Monday – Sunday: 9:15 – 17:00 Wednesdays are free for Costa Rican citizens and residents.
Tel.: (506) 2243-4202.
If you need to check a map, do so in a public and secure area or ask a police officer for help. Do not stop in front of strangers. Use ATMs that are located in public, well illuminated areas. Don’t allow strangers to stand near you and avoid taking unsolicited help. Count your money and put it away prior leaving the ATM. Use the safe deposit box of your hotel for your valuables.
13. Teatro Variedades (Theater)
Located on 5th Street, Central and 1st Avenue
In 1890, the Spanish theater businessman, Tomás García, along with other investors, decided to build the Teatro de Variedades. In 1891, it was inaugurated with the La Mascota Operetta and in 1904, the Greek Company introduced the first cinematographic projections in the country causing quite a stir and admiration among the citizens of San José. In 1906, the national tenor, Manuel (Melico) Salazar, made his debut in the opera Bohemios. Around 1913, the theater was sold to Nicolás Chavarría Mora, Alberto Echandi, José Zeledón, and José Rafael Chacón, who are responsible for the current adornment of the facade of the building. In 1920, the theater was purchased by Mario Urbini, who converted it into an exclusively cinematic theaterTheTeatroVariedades, had the honor of releasing the first movie filmed in Costa Rica in 1930 titled, ¨El Retorno,¨ dealing with several stories based on local traditions. The facade of the structure was created in brick and its adornment is eclectic with columns of friezes of human faces, floral garlands, and branches with large leaves. There are also two full bodied female figures with a harp in the middle.
14. The Anderson Family Building
Located on 5th Street, Central and 1st Avenue
This building was constructed in the beginning of the XX century in brick, Stone plinth, and interior walls in French baroque style (metal roof covered in concrete). The structure today has basically retained the same facade and is occupied by the restaurant, Rosti Pollos.
It is a two-floor neoclassic building, which was typical of the commercial buildings of that time. It belongs to the Anderson Sáenz Family. Its significance as a historical landmark complements the Variety Theater.
15. National Theater
Located on 2nd Avenue, 3rd and 5th Street
This building was constructed between 1890 and 1897 with public funds. The designs were drawn up by the engineers Luis Matamoros, NicolásChavarría, and Guillermo Reitz. Its construction was overseen by Antonio Varela. It was constructed in brick and stone base with granite and marble surfacing. It is the result of the ambitions of the coffee plantation oligarchies near the end of the XIX century. The exterior displays allegories of Dance, Music, and Fame (the current ones are replicas). There are also sculptures by renowned Italian artists like PietroBulgarelli, AdriáticoFroli, and PietroCapurro. The interior displays valuable paintings by Paolo Serra, JuigiVignani, Roberto Fontana, José Villa, and TomásPovedano.
Business hours: Monday – Saturday: 9:00 – 16:00. Closed Sundays.
Tuesdays: Theater at noon. Tours from 9:00 – 16:00.Except at noon.
Tel: (506) 2221-3756. Web: www.teatronacional.go.cr
16. The Teacher Juan Mora Fernández Statue (1748-1854)
Located in the plaza in front of the National Theater, 2nd Ave & 3rd Street
A teacher, judge, and politician during the Independence era and first Chief of State from 1824-1833, he was declared “Benemérito de la Patria” in 1848.
17. Gran Hotel Costa Rica
Located on 2nd Avenue, 3rd Street
This brick and concrete building was constructed between 1928 and 1930 in neoclassic style, in brick and cement. The job was directed by the engineer Víctor Lorenz. The first owner was Dr. Luis Paulino Jiménez Ortiz. It was originally four floors with a small tower. Later a fifth floor was added. For many years, it was the most distinguished hotel in San José, with many famous foreigners traveling to Cost Rica who stayed in the hotel.
18. The Arcades
Located on 2nd Avenue, 3rd Street
Declared an Architectural Monument on April 22, 1975, it is located next to Hotel Costa Rica and in front of the National Theater. It was built at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century to add to the landscape of the neighboring buildings. Next to it is the Dent walkway, which was the commercial center of the times.
19. The Historic Anglo Bank (Academy Building)
Located on Central Avenue, 1st and 3rd Street
This building was constructed during the first decade of the XX century. The neoclassical architectural design was by Jaime Carranza. The first floor displays dual pillars in Corinthian style. The second floor has balustrade balconies. The interior displays marble floors in the vestibule entrance, as well as carved wood doors and ceilings decorated in plaster in the main hall and side offices. The rest of the structure has been remodeled in the interior. This building was one of the main headquarters of the defunct Banco AnglodeCosta Rica. It has also been occupied by various public offices like the Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Commerce. Currently, there are offices of the Ministry of Culture dedicated to research about Cultural Heritage, Language, geography and History. You can also find here one of the tourism information offices of the Costa Rica Tourism Board.
Tel: 2010-7400. Web: www.patrimonio.go.cr
20. Lehmann Bookstore
Located on Central Avenue, 1st and 3rd Street
In 1895, the German Antonio Lehmann Merz emigrated to Costa Rica and founded the Catholic Library. In 1896, the Lehmann Bookstore came about with the help of Friedrich Sauter and Carlos Federspiel, who later separated to form their own companies.
Since the beginning of the XX century, this has been one of the most important bookstores in the country. The building was constructed in 1914 in neoclassic style by the architect Gerardo Rovira. It was made in brick with a metal surface and on the facade there are 8 columns with Corinthian capitals and between each column is a garland of flowers for a decorative touch. This building along with other important structures by Knöhr and the historic Ministry of Economy is an important collection of architectural works that are representative of San José in the beginning of the XX century.
21. Knöhr Building
Located on Central Avenue, 1st Street
This neoclassic building was constructed between 1912 and 1914 by Almacén Juan Knöhr and Sons. It was made from re-enforced concrete with an iron frame constructed by Humboldt Werkg in Colonia, Germany. The Purdy Engineering Co. (engineers and constructors) built the structure. It displays a curved courtyard, pilasters, medallions, and garlands. It is currently occupied by various businesses.
22. Steinvorth Building
Located on 1st Street, Central and 1st Avenue
At the end of the XIX century, the German immigrant Otto Steinvorth arrived to Costa Rica and in 1907 he finished construction of an impressive commercial building: the Steinvorth Commercial Building, which was used to sell many types of goods and one of the largest of its kind in San José during the first half of the XX century. In the 1940´s, the commercial building closed its doors and in the beginning of the 1960´s, Samuel Grinspan bought half of the property and demolished it.
Currently, only a small section of the building remains, and is very different due to inappropriate uses and the aggressive remodeling done to it. The architectural design was in French Art Noveau style and was done by the architect Francisco Tenca. Two floors were built in brick over a stone base and a metal frame. The facades were excessively decorated with animal motifs (camels and turkeys), and plants in low relief.
23. The Metropolitan Cathedral
Located on Central Street, 2/4th Avenue
At the end of the 18th century, the chapel of San José de la Boca del Monte, the name of the capital back then, was moved to where the cathedral is today. Made of mud walls and a straw roof in the beginning, it developed into a concrete structure with Salomonic columns. After having suffered damage from tremors and earthquakes, it was remodeled and converted into the Metropolitan Cathedral that it is today, along with its additions at the north end where El Sagrario Chapel is, and the Metropolitan Curia to the south.
Tel.: (506) 2258-1015 / 2221-3820.
24. Saint John Paul II
Located on Central Street, 2th Avenue This Carrara (Italy) marble piece was sculpted by Jorge Jiménez Deredia. The artist sought to express the human aspect and close relationship that Pope John Paul II had with people. It was placed on the north end of the Metropolitan Cathedral on September 30, 2006.
25. Central Park
Located on Central/1st Street, 2/4th Avenue
In 1868, in light of the recently inaugurated water system in San José, a fountain was erected in the main San José plaza, sheltered by metal beams brought from England. In 1885, the park was remodeled again in order to improve the look of the urban landscape of the capital and was converted into Central Park. The park is the heart of the city where the country’s highways come together and thousands of pedestrians use it as their starting point en route to their daily activities.
26. The Street Sweeper
Located on 2th Avenue, Central/1st Street
Made by the sculptor, Edgar Zúñiga, it was erected in Central Park in 2003. It is in honor of all the city workers in San José, who we see cleaning the city’s parks and streets.
27. Melico Salazar Popular Theater
Located on 2th Avenue, Central Street
Its construction was completed in 1928 by the designer José Fabio Garnier. In the beginning it was called Raventós Theater, because of the last name of the owner, and it offered motion-picture shows. In the 1980s, to offer homage to Manuel “Melico” Salazar, one of the most recognized Costa Rican opera stars, its name was changed as well as the type of shows, making room for more popular art forms.
Theater: Guided tours by appointment.
Events: See marquee.
Tel.: (506) 2221-4952 / 2233-5424
28. La Casona (The Historic House)
Located on Central Street, Central and 1st Avenue
In the middle of the XIX century, the Colombian, Miguel Macaya Artuze settled in Costa Rica and, in 1877, established the Macaya Hardware store, the oldest hardware store in the country. In the beginning, his business occupied various locations and in 1908, it was moved to a larger location and opened for business. This hardware store became the prototype for all commercial establishments who, since the end of the XIX century, tried to widen their customer base and offer comfortable facilities with merchandise organized in categorized sections. The business closed its doors in 1965 and, ten years later, Ricardo Baltodano Chamberlainrented it to convert it into a handicraft market called La Casona. The structure was built in neoclassic style and designed by the architect Jaime Carranza. It was constructed in brick over a stone base with a steel frame imported from Belgium. The main floors are edged stone, similar to the old sidewalks of the capital city.
Business hours: Monday – Saturday: 9:30 -18:30
29. The Historic Ángel Miguel Velásquez Residential Home
Located on Central Street, 1st and 3rd Avenue
This building was constructed in 1897 as a commercial and residential home of Angel Miguel Velásquez. In the upper part of the second floor, there is impressive adornment composed of a mosaic with floral motifs in Pompeian style and a forged iron balcony, reminiscent of French Art Noveau. The design of the structure was by the architect Francisco Tenca. On the first floor the ¨Iris¨ was held, one of the most exclusive bazaars of the first half of the XX century. The building belongs to IzaColombari. Only the facade of the original structure remains while the interior has been completely remodeled.
30. Nuestra Señora Del Carmen Church
Located on 3rd Avenue, Central Street
In 1830, the sisters, Jerónima and María Concepción QuirósyCastro, loyal devotees to the Carmenthe Virgin, donated land to build the church. In 1845, an adobe chapel was created and in 1874, it was finished and blessed as a church, which was constructed from stone and brick. It was built in neoclassic style and over time has undergone various remodeling of the main facade. The interior displays an image of the DulceNombre de Jesús, one of the oldest pieces preserved by the church and has great historic and religious significance. This devotion dates back to 1856 where it was associated tothe miracle that put an end to the cholera plague.
31. Banco de Costa Rica (The Historic Luis Ollé Commercial Building)
Located on 3rd Avenue, Central Street
This building was constructed in brick in the beginning of the XX century and displays a cement dome. The architectural design was done by the architect Daniel DomínguezPárraga and falls under the neoclassic style. It is used for commercial purposes.
This structure has served as Espriella and Company Hardware store, the Luis Ollé Commercial Building, and the BIESABank. In 1988 it was acquired by the Banco de Costa Rica. Although the façade has remained virtually unchanged, internally it has undergone many changes and the original concrete dome collapsed by accident, which was replaced some years later by a metal dome.
32. Herdocia Building
Located on 3rd Avenue, 2nd Street
In the middle of the XIX century, the property belonged to Jesús Castro and Ana de Alvarado. In 1866, their daughter, Toribia Castro, sold it to Pedro Quirós Jiménez. Other owners have been: José María Acosta Rojas, Jaime GüellFerrer, and Julia ÁlvarezCañas. In 1934, it was acquired by Carmen Herdocia Rojas and in 1945 the architect, Luis Llach was put in charge of constructing it with re-enforced concrete and brick. The building has a style that denotes the shift from neoclassic to modernism as well as baroque elements in the windows. The purpose of the building has always been for commercial and office uses. One unique feature of the design can be seen in the concrete pergolas and the central tower. It was declared a Historical and Architectural landmark on February 23rd, 2000.
33. The Costa Rican Post Office
Located on 2nd Street, 1/3rd Avenue,
Made from solid concrete with an eclectic style and notable French influence, the Mail and Telegraph building was built between 1914 and 1917 by the architect Luis Llach. It is a monumental and elegant structure with beautiful spires and a main entrance with narrow cupolas. Presently, apart from the Post Office, it houses the Stamp Museum that allows tourists to learn about the development of the Costa Rican Postal Service.
Open to the public: Mondays – Fridays: 7:30 - 18:00
Saturdays: 6:30 - 12 noon
Tel.: (506) 2223-1969
34. The Museum of Stamps & Post Office of Costa Rica
Located inside the Post Office
The Stamp Museum was created with the release of historical items from the Post Office, illustrating the progress of the various forms of communication as well as displaying the national and international stamp history. It is a highly visited siteby many national as well as foreign visitors, especially school groups of all grades. Tours: Interactive shows are given such as stamp exchanges, samples, stamp displays, courses and tips on stamp collecting, as well as educational support.
Hours: Mondays – Fridays: 8:00 - 17:00
Tel.: (506) 2223-6918
Web: www.correos.go.cr/web_museo/index.htm .
35. The Juan Rafael Mora Porras Monument (1814-1860)
CAlle 2, Ave. 1/3 (In front of the Post Office)
He was a coffee grower and president of the Republic from 1849-1859 when its independence was recognized by Spain. He encouraged the fight against the Filibusters during the National Campaign from 1856-1857. In 1858 he managed to establish the border with Nicaragua. He was named “Benemérito de la Patria” in 1850.
The monument represents several ideas: the hard-working laborers on the north end and the campaign of 1856 on the south end. There are also two figures: to the east, a woman who symbolizes science and, to the west, a man who symbolizes liberty.
36. La Chola.
Located on Central Avenue, 2/4th Street
This bronze work of art was made by the artist Manuel Vargas as part of the “Art in Public Space” project, sponsored by the City of San José since 2003. “La Chola” was erected in 2004.
37. Monument to the Farmer
Located on 4th Street, Central & 1st Avenue
This work of art by Fernando Calvo is dedicated to the man of the earth, the backbone of the country, the untiring worker that has always been among us, the farmer of the Central Valley. It received the “Aquileo Echeverría” award from the Ministry of Culture and Youth in 1982.
38. The Central Market
Located on 6th Street, Central & 1st Avenue
After the transformation of the Main Plaza into Central Park, a place known as the “New Plaza” was chosen as the San José market place. The structure has undergone many transformations, but it hasn’t lost its most important aspect: a melting pot of cultures within the Costa Rican society and a daily symbol of its cultural heritage that brings together, day to day, the traditional and the modern.
Hours: Mondays – Saturdays: 8:00 - 17:00.
Tel.: (506) 2295-6104
In 1848, during the José María Castro Madriz administration, a land division was established for the city of San José, which led to the current El Carmen District.
The construction of a chapel in 1845, dedicated to El Carmen the Virgin, encouraged people to settle down in this area. Since the 1870´s, the northeast sector of San José has brought together other development centers besides the church, such as the Atlantic Train Station and an array of diverse industries (brick factories, financial institutions, mills, and liquor stores).
The urban growth of El Carmen District gained momentum after the 1890´s when the elite residents of San José started to move to this growing district, which led to it becoming an exclusively bourgeoisie area. The urbanization process not only eliminated estates and farms, but also slowly forced many industries away that had long been established in the area.
The three neighborhoods that came about were: Barrio Amón in 1892, Barrio Aranjuez in 1894, and Barrio Otoya much later in 1906. Along with the residentialchange of the area, the government also decided to construct a series of buildings for various institutions and transform old areas into wide open plazas like Morazán Park (1887), Nacional Park (1895), España Park (1920), and Simón Bolívar Park (1921). The latter was later converted into a zoo (1924). All these changes increased the value of the land in this area and brought status and prestige to the district.
1. The Rafael Ángel Calderón Museum
This museum is in charge of preserving, recovering, and sharing the legacy of the social reforms achieved between 1940 and 1944 by the ”Benemérito de la Patria,” Dr. Calderón Guardia. There are four historical rooms that recreate the life and work of the ex-president, and an art gallery for seasonal exhibits.
Hours: Mondays – Saturdays: 9:00 - 17:00.
2. Santa Teresita Church
Located on 23rd Street, 9th Avenue
In 1920, the government donated land to construct the church. Construction started in 1921 and was finished in 1940. It was dedicated as a parish in 1941 by Monsignor Víctor Manuel SanabriaMartínez. This neoclassic structure was made of re-enforced concrete with a metal frame, which was designed by the architect José María Barrantes Monge. The artist, Luis Ferón, created the four evangelists located on the interior of the dome. Two stain glass windows remain from the old Colegio de Sión Chapel, which were brought over from France.
3.The Historic Customs Station
Located between 23rd & 25th Street, 7th & 9th Avenue
This building was constructed between 1889 and 1891 through a contract with Minor Keith to be used as a warehouse for the Atlantic Railroad terminal. It´s area measures some 13,000 sq. ft.
This neoclassic building requiredthousands of bricks and the floor was built with cut stone slabs. The metal roof has an industrial feel and is covered with sheets of galvanized iron.
Rose windows were used as an ornamental and lighting feature on the facade of the building. In 1931, the government secured a contract with Mrs. Adela Gargollo de Jiménez to expand the warehouse with re-enforced concrete and build as administrative section. Around 1976, it ceased being used as a customs station and was left virtually abandoned.
Between 1979 and 1990, efforts were made to turn itinto a performing arts center, but the idea never got off the ground due to financing. From 1990 to 2003, it was occupied by a private company that organized fairs and expositions. A new projects intents to convert itinto a cultural center.
4. La Aduana Theater
Located on 25th Street, 3rd & 9th Avenue
Originally, this building served as a customs warehouse on Carrillo, along the Sucio River in Guácimo, Limón. At the end of the 1890´s, it was moved and installed on the east end of the Historic Customs Station, to be used primarily as an extra customs warehouse, and later as a plant to mint coins until 1949. It was built with iron arches and covered in sheets of galvanized iron. It was remodeled in 1987 and later became the Customs Theater, belonging to the National Theater Company of the Ministry of Culture.
5. Monument to General Tomás Guardia Gutiérrez (1832-1882)
This military man was president of Costa Rica from 1870 to 1876 and from 1877 to 1882. He was responsible for the beginning of the construction of the Atlantic Railway, the enactment of the Constitution in 1871, and the abolition of the death penalty in 1882. A bronze bust of him was created by Miguel OrtuñoSobrado, which was commemorated on April 26th, 1982.
6. Steam Engine N°59
It arrived in 1939 by boat at the Port of Limón from England and was imported by the Northern Railway Company. Its purchase was part of a shipment of six such engines. These locomotives were in operation until 1956 when they were replaced by more modern diesel engines.
7. Historic Atlantic Railroad Station
Located on 3rd Avenue, 17th and 19th Street
At the end of the XIX century, the Atlantic Railroad Company was the largest in the country. The building was constructed in 1908 in brick and in Victorian style. The design was by the architect Jaime Carranza. The main facade kept the Baroque fronton with a floral finish, and the figurehead flanked by the mythical figures Mercury and Venus. The roof is made of metal with an attic.
8. National Park
Located on 1st & 3rd Avenue, 15th & 19th Street
In 1873, the government decided to provide a public space in the area around the Atlantic Railroad Terminal. This act allowed for the expropriation of the necessary land to create the Station Plaza. The site gained notoriety in 1895 when it was chosen as the location for the installation of the National Monument to commemorate the National Campaign of 1856-1857. From this moment on it became the National Park and over time, some of the following sculptures have been placed there.
9.The National Monument.
It was inaugurated on September 15, 1895 to commemorate the Santa Rosa, Rivas and Rio San Juan victories, during the 1856-1857 Campaña Nacional (Campaign of 1856-1857), against the filibusters. The sculpture is an allegory in which five women represent each one of the five Central American nations (Costa Rica being the tallest brandishing the flag and holding Nicaragua). The man that is feeing represents William Walker and the dead soldier symbolizes the defeat of the invaders and victory for the defense of national sovereignty. It is a bronze sculpture, work by the sculptor Louis Carrier Belleuse, made in Paris in 1891.
10. Monument to José Martí (1853-1895)
A poet, writer, lawyer, and Cuban politician, he has been considered the most important leader of Cuban Independence. He landed on the shores of Playitas Beach with his troops and was fatally wounded in the Battle of Dos Ríos. As a writer, he was one of the key figures of Modernism. Among some of his works are: Ismaelillo, Free Verse (Versos Libres), Simple Verses (Versos Sensillos), Letters to my Mother (Cartas a mi madre), and Ill-fated Friendship (Amistad Funesta). The monument is an effigy in bronze, by the sculptor Tony López. It was inaugurated in 1953to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Martí.
11. Monument to Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753-1811)
This priest and Mexican patriot is considered the father of Mexican Independence. He started the Revolution of 1810 with the Grito de Dolores, in Guanajuato. His army was made up of mostly indigenous people and he fought for justice of this social sector. After some tremendous victories, he was betrayed and made a prisoner and eventually shot in Chihuaha. The bust, one of the most valuableinthe country, is made of bronze and was placed on a marble pedestal. The sculpture was created by Juan Fernando Olaguibel (1965) and was inaugurated in 1966 for the visit of the then Mexican President Gustavo DíazOrdaz.
12. Monument to Andrés Bello (1781-1865)
A writer, philologist, poet, legal advisor, and Venezuelan politician, Andrés Bello carried out important work in Chile as the Rector of the University and editor of the Chilean Civil Code. A few of his publications are: GramáticaCastellana (one of the best), and poetry inspired by American events. This bronze bust was signed by L. González G. (1938). It was displayed in 1981 on the occasion of the 200 year anniversary of the birth of the poet, thanks to the donation by Dr. Luis Herrera Campins, the president of Venezuela.
13. National Library
Located on 3rd Avenue, 15th and 17th Street
This building was constructed between 1969 and 1971 and is made of re-enforced concrete with a functional style and five floors. The design belongs to the architect Jorge BorbónZellerde from the National Planning Office. It was constructed by the CARREZ Ltda. Company. The building was given the name Miguel ObregónLizano and was founded as an institution in 1888. The earthquake that affected Costa Rica in 1990 produced various structural damages to the building and it was closed for nearly two years. On the west side of the first floor is the National Gallery of Contemporary Art, which holds exhibitions scheduled by the Costa Rican Art Museum.
Business hours:Monday – Friday: 8:00 – 16:00
14. Supreme Elections Tribunal
Located on 1st Avenue, 15th Street
During the Daniel OduberQuirós administration (1974-1978), a group of buildingsweredemolished in order to make way for a new presidential house. The work remained unfinished when the administration ofRodrigo Carazo Odio (1978-1982) decided not to continue with the project. The project was restarted by theRafael ÁngelCalderón Fournier (1990-1994) administration, although with the intention of the building serving as home to the Supreme Elections Tribunal. It was inaugurated in 1995, during the Government of Jose MaríaFigueres (1994-1998). The original design of the building was by the architect Jorge Bertheau and the final plan was by the architect Percy Zamora.
15. The Historic Second Precinct
Located on 3rd Avenue, 11th and 15th Street
This building was constructed near the end of the 1920´s in re-enforced concrete and brick. It displays many neoclassic elements in its ornamentation. The Union Motor Company used it for automobile sales. The design of the building has three floors: the first is on Las Damas Avenue, and it was used as offices and an exhibition room. The second was used as a spare part warehouse, and the third floor, facing 1st Avenue, served as a shop and garage. In 1950, this building was home to the Second Precinct of the Ministry of Public Safety.
16. Museum of Art and Contemporary Design
Located on 3rd Avenue, 11th & 15th Street
This museum, inaugurated in 1994, is located within the facilities of the historic National Liquor factory and is used to exhibit the latest in modern art. The main exhibition room houses an old bodega for aged rum, built between 1853 and 1856 in pavas stone with almost three foot thick walls.
Business hours: Monday – Saturday: 9:30 – 17:00
Tel. 2257-7202. Web: www.madc.ac.cr
17. National Culture Center (CENAC)
Historic National Liquor Factory
Located on 3rd and 7th Avenue, 11th and 15th Street
The Aguardiente factory was created as a State monopoly, in defense of public health and to benefit the national treasury. The first buildings of the historic factory were built between 1853 and 1856 (during the Juan Rafael Mora Porras administration) and were made of stone with beams, and over the years with pochote wood and tiled roof. The overall architectural design currently displays and array of construction materials including: cut stone, brick, re-enforced concrete, wood, concrete blocks, and metal structures. The southeast stone-carved portal remains from the Historic Liquor Factory along with the sun dial that was installed in 1941. In 1981, the factory was moved to Grecia, Alajuela, with only the packaging and bottle deposit plant remaining behind in San José. In 1992, the building was handed over to the Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports, and underwent necessary remodeling in order to install the National Culture Center, inaugurated in February, 1994.
Tours: Monday – Friday: 8:00 – 16:00
Theater: Based on schedule
Tel: 2255-3628.Web: www.mcj.go.cr
18. Interamericano Apartment Buildings
Located on 7th Avenue, 15th Street
This building was constructed in brick in the beginning of the 1880´s. It was a machine plant for the first electric plant in San José that belonged to Luis Batres and Manuel Dengo. In 1930, the engineer Francisco Jiménez Ortiz acquired the building in order to install a coffee mill and years later a glass and porcelain factory. In the beginning of the 1940´s, it was remodeled, expanded, and converted into apartments that were initially rented to the group of engineers that were working on the Interamericana Sur highway. There is some ornamentation on the facade and has a central garden patio. Today it belongs to the Caleiro Association S.A.
19. Mexican Embassy
Located on 7th Avenue, 11th and 15th Street
In 1928, the government of Costa Rica donated the land to Mexico for the construction of the Diplomatic Legion of Mexico. The construction, made from concrete block, was built between April and November of the same year by the Mrs. Adela Gargollo de Jiménez Construction Company. The design is neocolonial by the architect José Francisco Salazar. It was inaugurated in December of the same year by the president Cleto González Víquez and the ambassador Antonio Médiz Bolio. In April 1948, a significant historical event occurred in this building when the end of the conflict known as the ¨Revolution of ´48¨ was brought about by the signing of a ceasefire agreement, the Mexican Embassy Pact, endorsed by Benjamin Núñez, who was representing José Figueres Ferrer and Manuel Mora Valverde.
20. Plaza España Apartment Buildings
Located on 7th Avenue, 11th Street
This neoclassical building was designed by the famous painter and architect, Teodorico Quirós, and was made from re-enforced concrete between 1939 and 1940 by the engineer Francisco Jiménez Ortiz. This elegant three floor building has Solomonic columns, balconies, and large concave glass windows, which were inmported from England. The building belongs to the SociedadMita de San José S.A..
21. Casa Amarilla (Chancellery building)
Located on 3th Avenue, 15/17th Street
In 1912, the philanthropic North American, Andrew Carnegie, donated $100,000 dolars to build the Central American Justice Court building in San José. Thebrick building was constructed by the English Construction Company Limited and was completed in 1916. The design was inspired by Spanish architecture and was designed by the architect, Henry D. Witfield.
In 1919, the Court was dissolved and the building was taken over by the Republic of Costa Rica and was used for various purposes such as the Presidential House, the National Congress, and the Ministry of Foreign Relations. The ¨Casa Amarilla¨ is greatly decorated in baroque fashion. The name of the building wherethe Chancellery operates comes from the traditional color in which it was originally painted.
Business hours: Monday – Friday: 8:0 – 16:00.
Tel. 2223-7555 Web: www.rree.go.cr
22. The Family Monument
Located on 3th Avenue, 15 Street
Located at the entrance to the National Insurance Institute, it was created by the Costa Rican sculptor Francisco Zúñiga at the request of the Executive President of the institution. It represents a busy, hard working, and humble family. It was unveiled in April, 1978.
23. España Park
Located on 3rd and 7th Avenue, 9th and 11th Street
This publicarea came about in 1862 as a plaza for activities related to the Liquor Factory. The place was converted into a resting place for ox cart drivers that arrived from different places throughout the Central Valley, transporting bundles of sugar that were used as ingredients in the process for making alcohol and liquors. In addition, the area was used to hold circuses that were held for end-of-the-year festivals, as well as bull fighting events. Soccer games were also played here during the weekend. With the opening of the Metallic Building, it was used as an exercise place for school children. In 1917, it was converted in Concordance Park, and in 1920, it was finally given the name, España Park. In the 1940´s, Mario González Feo, the manager of the Liquor Factory made a series of improvements to the park, such as the construction of a small hutdecorated with mosaics with a tile roof, as well as park benches and plants. The latest remodeling was made in 1994, the same date in which the monument to Queen Elizabeth the Catholic was relocated to the park. The following monuments can be found in the park:
24. Monument to the Priest Cecilio Umaña (1794-1871)
This priest was sworn in on November 6th, 1824 as a public officialof the First Congress of the Free State of Costa Rica. He worked as a chaplain for the military during the National Campaign of 1856-1857. Upon his death, he donated his fortune to various works and institutions, among them: the San Juan de Dios Public Hospital and the construction of public washing palces (clohes)located in Barrio Amón. This bronze bust is the work of the sculptor, Juan Ramón Bonilla, and was inaugurated in 1918.
25. Monument to Rafael Barroeta Baca (1813-1880)
This man was born in Cartago and was the son of Rafael Barroeta (member of the First Governmental Board of Directors in 1822). Barroeta Baca held various public posts: State Advisor in 1870, Minister to the Tomás Guardiaregime and interim President of the Republic in 1874. He is considered a great social benefactor. The bronze sculpture, which existed in the General Cemetery by the artist Juan Ramón Bonilla, was inaugurated in 1918.
26.Monument to Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)
This North American philanthropist and industrialist left his immense fortune to create foundations for charity and scientific research. He paid for the construction of the Central American Justice Court Building in Cartago (destroyed by an earthquake in 1910). After it was destroyed, he helped build it again, but this time in San José (today known as the Casa Amarilla). This bronze bust is the work of Juan Ramón Bonilla, inaugurated in 1918.
27. Monument to Tomás Soley Güell (1875-1943)
This man held several positions such as co-director of the newspaper El Imparcial, a congressman from 1920 to 1922, and State Secretary for the Tax and Commerce department from 1923 to 1928. He was one of the founders of the National Insurance Institute. In 1974, for the 50 year anniversary of the founding of the Insurance Institute, a bronze effigy of him by the sculptor Olger Villegas Cruz was placed here.
28. Monument to Juan Vázquez de Coronado (1523-1565)
This man was famous as a Spanish conqueror, Lord Mayor of Honduras, and founder of the city of Cartago. He traveled throughout the territory seeking to pacify many of the indigenous tribes of the area. He was named governor of the province of Costa Rica by King Phillip II. He died by drowning during a return trip to Spain. This bronze statue measures some ten feet in height and was created by the Spanish sculptor José Antonio Márquez and donated by the Hispanic Culture Institute of Madrid. It was inaugurated on October 12th, 1977.
29. Monument to Isabel the Católica (1451-1504)
Shewas the Queen of Castilla and thanks to her marriage to Fernando de Aragón, she was able to unify the two primary kingdoms in Spain and expel the Moors from the Iberian Peninsula. She fought for the political, legal, territorial, religious and linguistic unity of Spain. In 1492, her support of the company owned by Christopher Columbus was crucial in the exploration of the Americas. This bronze bust was cast in Madrid by I. A. González and was sculpted by José Plañez.
30. Graduated Schools (The Metallic Building)
Located on 5th Avenue, 9th Street
In 1890, during the brief administration of Carlos Durán Cartín, a contract was signed with the Forging Association of Aiseau, Belgium to construct a metal building with neoclassic design, created by the architect Charles Thirion. The purpose was to serve as the San José Graduated School for Boys and Girls. At the end of 1892, the pieces of the building arrived to Costa Rica, and it was inaugurated in 1896. In 1917, the girls section of the school was given the name Julia Lang, and the name Buenaventura Corralesa was given to the boy´s section. The supervision of the building´s construction was done by the engineer, Henry Invernisio. These schools were an example of the metal structures that became more common since the 1889 International Exhibition in Paris, where the famous Eiffel Tower was inaugurated, designed by the engineer Gustavo Eiffel.
31. Morazán Park
Located on 3rd Avenue, 5th and 9th Street
Part of the area today that is known as Morazán Park was once a lagoon which was used to extract mud to build adobe homes. In 1878, the draining process of these lands began to create an open public area named Laguna Plaza. By a decree on September 15th, 1887, the park was created and named after General, Francisco Morazán. The project was overseen by the engineer Juan de Yongh and was inaugurated in 1890. Over time, the park has seen many transformations. One of them was the installation of the small Japanese gardens (in the 1950´s). The latest remodeling took place in 1991in order to give it a feel of what it looked like at the beginning of the XX century. The following sculptures can be found in the park:
32. Monument to the Teacher Marcelino García Flamenco (1888-1919)
He was born in San Esteban, in thedepartmentof San Vincente, El Salvador. In 1915, he settled down in Costa Rica where he became known for his education efforts while working as a school teacher. Due to the abuses of the dictator, Federico Tinoco, he took up arms and fought alongside the revolutionaries. He was taken prisoner and shot on July 19th, 1919 near La Cruz, Guanacaste. In his memory, a stone fountain was installed in 1926 and given the name ¨Fuente del Caminante¨ (The Walker´s Fountain). At the top of the fountain is a half relief in bronze. The work was done by the sculptor, Juan Ramón Bonilla.
33. Monument to Simón Bolívar (1783-1830)
A Venezuelan General and statesman, decorated as a South American liberator and hero.In 1913, he started the long and bloody Independence Revolution. He gave rise to the emancipation of Greater Colombia (Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador), and led the insurrection in Peru. He was a great speaker and writer, and fought for the unity of Latin America. He wrote the Jamaica Letters, in which he declared his political ideals. Another one of his writings includesMiDelirioel Chimborazo. The bronze sculpture was inaugurated in 1921 and is attributed to the artist, Tennerani. Other replicas of this monument can be found in Caracas, Venezuela; Bogota, Colombia; and Hamburg, Germany.
34. Monument to Bernardo O’Híggins (1776-1842)
A Chilean general and statesman.He fought against the royal Spanish troops and after the defeat at Rancagua, he moved to Argentina where he worked with General San Martín to organize a liberating army. The military victory of Maipú led to the Independence of Chile. This bronze bust is the work of Luis
Umaña Ruiz, and was inaugurated in 1983.
35. Monument to Mauro Fernández Acuña (1843-1905)
This intellectual and Costa Rican politician, graduated as a lawyer in 1869. He was a judge and district attorney in the Supreme Court Justice and head of the legal department in the University of Santo Tomás. He also held a position as the State Tax, Commerce and Public InstructionSecreary Department under the government of Bernardo Soto. Through this important postion, he managed to bring about the important Education Reform (1884), which engendered real change in the primary and secondary learning system. This bronze bust is the work of the sculptor Juan Portuguez Fucigna. It was forged in shops of the Pacific Railroad company and was inaugurated on December 19th, 1943.
36. Monument to Julio Acosta García (1872-1954)
This man held various public postionsand later led the Sapoá revolutionary movement (1919) against the dictatorship the of the Tinoco brothers. He was elected president of Costa Rica (1929-1924). During his government, he created the Control Office, todaythe General Comptroller of the Republic, and was faced with the border conflict with Panama, which gave rise to the Coto War. He was declared a Meritorious of the Motherland. This bronze sculpture was made by the Italian artist, Leoni Tommasi, and was inaugurated in 1963.
37. Monument to Francisco Morazán (1792-1842)
This man was a patriot and statesman born in Honduras. He was the shining figure of the Central American Federalist ideal in the first half of the XIX century. He fought for the union of the countries that made up the old Central American Federation, and faced the persecution and ambitions of the local leaders. In 1842, he arrived to Costa Rica and contributed to the defeat of Braulio Carillo, but he couldn´t manage to consolidate his government and shortly thereafter, he was taken prisoner and shot on September 15th, 1842 in San Jose´s Central Park. In 1887, the government decided to create Morazán Park, near the Liquor factory and in 1993,a bronze effigy was placed there, created by the sculptor, Fernando Calvo.
38. Monument to Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1811-1888)
This man was an Argentinean politician, writer, and pedagogue. He worked in journalism for a while for the newspaper El Mercurio in Chile. In 1868, he replaced Bartolomé Mitre as president of the Republic of Argentina. Some of his writings are: Trips (Viajes), Recuerdos de mi Provincia (Memories of my Province), MíDefensa (My Defense),Campaña en el Ejército Grande (the Big Army) and Conflicto y Armonía de lasRazas en América (Conflict and Harmony among the people of America). This bronze bust is the work of the Argentinean sculptor, Luigi Perlottiy, and was displayed in the 1950´s.
39. The Music Temple
In 1920, the Year-end Festival Commission decided to build a kiosk made of re-enforced concrete in Morazán Park. The design was by the architect, José Francisco (Chisco) Salazar, who was only given three weeks to build it, and therefore had to put in 18 hour work days. The style of the kiosk was inspired by the Temple of Love and the Music of Versailles, France (from which the name was taken). It was inaugurated on December 25th, of the same year, in order to be ready for the holiday festivals of San José. This historical landmark is excellent for concerts and performances due to its acoustic qualities.
40. Las Acacias Homes
Located on 3rd Avenue, 9th Street
This Victorian-style home was constructed in the first half of the XX century. The materials used in its construction were stone, brick, and fine wood. The roof is similar to an attic style with three dormer windows topped by a metallic crest and other ornamental elements. The main facade has a beautiful stain glass window within a larger window in a bay window style similar to that used in San Francisco, California. This residential home belongs to Salvador Gurdián Morales.
41. Historic Cecil Vernor Lindo Home
(now Bar Key Largo)
Located on 3rd Avenue, 7th Street
This home was built near the end of the XIX century by the Herrán family, in-laws of the ex-president Cleto González Víquez. In the 1920´s, it was rented to the wealthy businessman Cecil Vernor Lindo, who was also worked for the United Fruit Company. Years later it served as the headquarters of the Music Conservatory of the University of Costa Rica. In the mid 1970´s, Key Largo bar was established. The structure is in Victorian style. The first floor is made of brick and the second level is in French baroque style (metal roof covered by concrete). It now belongs to Maximiliano Gurdián.
42. The Maroy S.A. Building
Located on 1st Avenue, 5th Street
This three-floor building was constructed in 1923 with re-enforced concrete and was designed by the architect Gerardo Rovira. Its owner was the lawyer and businessman, Manuel Francisco Jiménez Ortiz. Over time, it has been used as residential housing, business, and offices. In the 1940´s, it was leased to the Costa Rican Railroad Company. It is representative of the neoclassic style. Some of its unique elements are: a vestibule with a domed roof, iron –rail balconies, floral terraced columns, and dormer windows and monitors in the roof.
43. Historic Residence of the Jiménez de la Guardia Family
Located on 5th Street, 1st and 3rd Avenue
This noble residence was constructed with a mix of styles at the beginning of the XX century. It has elements of the modern Art Noveau movement by the architect, Francisco Tenca. The main facade displays various ornamental subjects, among them being a mid-relief of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Paradise; feminine faces, cantilevers and cornices surrounded with an array of decorative stylized vegetation elements.
44. The French Alliance House
Located on 5th Avenue, 7th Street
In 1893, Amán Fasileau Duplantier sold this land to Manuel Sandoval Jiménez, a businessman from Alajuela, for the construction of a home. Two years later, Sandoval had finished his two-floor home made of brick, finished wood, and metal frame imported from Belgium. This was one of the first homes in Barrio Amón. In 1965, it was converted into the Costa Rican-French Alliance headquarters.
Tel: 2222-2283. Web: www.afsj.net
45. Historic Ofelia María Coto Cubero Home
Located on 9th Avenue, 5th Street
This home was built in 1924 by Aniceto Esquivel Carranza. The material used for its construction was Pine Tea wood planks. Because of its construction elements, typology, and scale, it is a typical example of the great homes built in this area. It has brick plinths, and a symmetrical layout with large guillotine windows and diamond-shaped ornamentation.
46. Historic Mariano Álvarez Melgar Home
Located on 9th Avenue, 3rd Street
This was the home of Lic. Mariano Álvarez Melgar and was built in brick in 1910. Álvarez Melgar worked as a Spanish consulate in Costa Rica. The building has an Arabic-style façade, with cornices, and door and window frames. The main access leads to a corridor with iron arches, supported by wall columns and ironwood finish.
47. Historic Alejo Aguilar Home
Located on 9th Avenue, 3rd Street
This monumental home was constructed in the 1920´s for Alejo Aguilar. Its eclectic architecture combines various neoclassic elements in the tower; half-point arches, and tiles roof, classic windows, and cantilevers made from fine wood, balustrades and dressed stone in the crowns of the facade.
48. Historic Joaquín Tinoco Granados Home
Located on 9th Avenue, 3rd Street
This home was built near the end of the XIX century in brick. It was home to General Joaquín Tinoco, the brother of the dictator, Federico Tinoco, until his death. The building is in Victorian style with a symmetrical facade, a corridor with balustrade wood, Californian bay windows, and a front garden. It displays gables on the roof richly carved in draft wood with filigree ornamentation. Because Joaquín Tinoco was a member of the de facto government, he had many enemies.
49. FODESAF Office
Located on 11th Avenue, 3rd Street
This building was constructed in 1910 in brick, as a home for Cipriano Herrero del Peral, a businessman and owner of the store ¨La Fama.¨ It was designed by the architect Jaime Carranza Aguilar in neoclassic style. It has two floors and wide corridors lined with balustrades and wall columns. Over time, the home was passed over to the Rohrmoser and Lahmann families and finally served as a commercial establishment, the first being the Club LeChambort Restaurant and the Hotel Britania. It now has a Government office.
50. Historic Luis Ollé Home
Located on 11th Avenue, 3rd Street
This home was built in 1923 by the wealthy businessman Luis Ollé, the founder of the store with the same name. It has a neoclassic feel with an asymmetric layout. Some of its architectural elements are dressed stone in its facade, a portico entrance with Doric columns, a double staircase that leads to the balustrade and garden.
51. The Moor Castle
Located on 13th Avenue, 3rd Street
This building is the most enigmatic andunique of its kind, located in Barrio Amón. It was constructed in the 1920´s as a residential home for the Spanish businessman Anastasio Herrero del Peral. The Moorish architecture design is the work of the architect, Gerardo Rovira. There is an array of detailed construction and ornamentation, some of which are: a tower, and a copper-plated dome, a multi-level terrace roof, castle walls, pointed stain glass windows, an interior patio with a fountain, external walls with an array of decorative elements in the antimacassar coverings as well as the walls and ceilings. In the second half of the XX century, it was acquired by the Archbishop, Carlos Humberto Rodríguez Quirós, who lived there for many years. It now serves as a restaurant.
52. Children’s Museum
The Costa Rican Center of Science and Culture: “The foundation helps us help each other.” Visitors will be impressed by the building’s architectural design, dating back to the beginning of the 20th century when it used to serve as the central penitentiary. It was opened in 1994 and is popularly known as the Children’s Museum. It is the first interactive museum in Central America. It covers themes related to science, history, technology, and the arts. Visitors can also tour the National Art Gallery, which is located next to the museum, along with the Youth Knowledge Complex. Visitors can also participate in events presented in the National Auditorium.
Hours: Tuesdays – Fridays: 8:00 to 16:30.
Saturdays & Sundays: 9:30 - 17:00.
Tel: (506) 2258-4929. Web: www.museocr.org
In the beginning of the 1940´s, the urbanization of the Paseo Colón area was underway, by transforming coffee plantations into residential housing areas, at the same time as the inauguration of the La Sabana International Airport. The main reason for the elimination of the coffee plantations and introduction of residential housing was the international coffee prices crisis during the Second World War and the shutting off of Costa Rica´s main market, Germany. This situation caused many coffee plantations owners to closed down the plantations on the west side of the city and make way for land clearing as well as take advantage of lucrative land prices around the airport. This process made way for the elegant residential neighborhoods of San Francisco, San Bosco, and Pitahaya. The border of these residential sections stretched west along 42nd Street, south along 1oth Avenue, east along 20th Street, and north along 3rd Avenue.
Paseo Colón in the 1950´s was a paved street with street lights, and the streetcar tracks had been taken out based on research carried out by Jacobo Schifter and Lowell Gudmundson, during the period from 1951 to 1955. The area around Paseo Colón (especially the Pithaya and San Bosco neighborhoods) began to see a significant influx of Jewish families. In this area, in addition to housing, the Israeli Center and Synagogue were built. This was largely due to Jewish people leaving Europe after the Second World War looking to settle down in more peaceful countries.
The area around Paseo Colón also saw an influx of respectable Lebanese people settling down in the area and for many years peacefully co-existed among Jewish people and Costa Ricans. The architecture of the area at that time around Paseo Colón was representative of the middle and upper class sectors of the society, taking in to account that the area was created as a residential area, but currently the expansion process of the area has tended to slowly take up a large part of the area with the arbitrary demolition process that gave rise to the phenomenon.
1. The Historic National Insurance Institute
Located on 0 and 2nd Avenue, 10th Street
In 1924, during the Ricardo Jiménez Oreamuno (1924-1928) government, the National Insurance Institute was created, as a bank guarantor. In 1932, it was decided that a building for the San José Fire Department would be built next to La Merced Church. It is important to remember that since this time the San José Fire Department has been a member of the National Insurance Institute.
The four-floor building was built with re-enforced concrete in Art Deco style according to the designs of the architect Fernando Gabriele. In 1943, as an expansion to the north, a new building for offices the Institute was constructed in re-enforced concrete in Art Deco style. Its design belongs to the architect, José María Barrantes Monge. Both buildings have a notable symmetry in their facades, while their volumetric composition emphasizes a vertical line. Both buildings have corners surrounded by semi-cylindrical volumes. In 1976, the insurance institute moved to the El Carmen District and converted the old building into the Merced branch. It was declared a Historical and Architectural landmark on November 30th, 2004.
2. La Merced Church
Located on 2nd and 4th Avenue, 10th and 12th Street
In 1815, the priest, Encarnación Fernández, obtained permission to build an adobe chapel on the site where today stands the Central Bank. In 1822, an earthquake damaged it and the earthquake of 1841 forced it to be demolished. In 1848, it was reconstructed in brick, but another earthquake in 1888 left it in ruins. In a deal with the government, a new church was built in front of hospital´splaza (today is Braulio Carrillo park). In 1894, during the leadership of Father Santiago Zúñiga, construction began. The neogothic design belonged to the engineer, Lesmes Jiménez Bonnefil, and the architect, Jaime Carranza Aguilar. In 1907, its construction was finished and was made with a steel frame, brick walls, and cut-stone base. It has a unique tower with pointed windows, a rose window, buttresses, and three naves. In 1920, the Italian artist, Adriano Arié, painted the interior columns.
The central nave is some thirty feet high, and the base of the interior walls is covered in marble with mosaic floors made in the factory of Mrs. Adela Jiménez. The focus of the interior is on the Christ in Agony sculpture, created by Manuel Zúñiga, as well as the stain glass windows. A staircase flanked by a balustrade provides access to the building; both are made of soft stone. On September 12th, 1969, it was blessed by the Archbishop, Carlos Humberto Rodríguez Quirós. In 2002, a long restoration process began. In 2010, a ten foot sculpture of piled stone was placed in its gardens dedicated to the Way of Christ, and created by the Argentinean artist Josefina Genovese. It was declared a Historical and Architectural landmark on June 11th, 1996.
Tel. 2248-0065 www.tesorosdelamerced.com
3. Braulio Carrillo Park
Located on 2nd and 4th Avenue, 12th and 14th Street
In the first half of the XIX century, on the site where today the La Merced Church is located, a plaza for taking siestaswas created, and on the west side (where Braulio Carrillo Park is located today), is an enormous mansion. In the 1820´s, adobe and bahareque building was constructed. It was known as the Mesón de Mora and occupied by poor families. By 1851, the area was designated as the limit of the west side of the city. At the end of the XIX century, this area had turned into a dangerous area, due to crime and the mansion had become a rundown building. In 1902, the Secretary of the Treasury, Cleto González Víquez, had the building demolished in order to build a new public plaza and therefore clean up and improve the area around the La Merced Church which was under construction, and San Juan de Dios Hospital. The Congress decided to transform it into a park and name it Braulio Carrillo Park. By 1908, it was wooded area and its perimeter had a brick wall of about 5 feet high.
4. Statue of Lic. Braulio Carrillo Colina (1800-1845)
Located on 2nd Avenue, 12th and 14th Street
Braulio Carrillo (1800-1845) was born in La Chinchilla of San Rafael of Oreamuno of Cartago. He studied at León University and graduated with a law degree. In Costa Rica, he was the president of the Court of Justice and a member of the Central American Federal Congress. He was Chief of State of Costa Rica from 1835-1837 and from 1838-1842. Some of his more outstanding achievements were: initiating coffee production, abolishing the Governmental AmbulanceLaw, and establishing San José as the capital (1835), promoting construction of sidewalks and bridges, and paving the main roads of San José.
On November 15th, 1838, he pulled Costa Rica permanently from the Central America Federation and in 1841 he decreed the Civil, Penal, and Procedure Codes. In 1841, he was overtaken by Francisco Morazán and forced to exile in El Salvador, wherehe was assassinated in 1845. He is widely considered the ¨Architect of the Republic of Costa Rica.¨ In 1971, he was bestowed the title of Meritorious of the Motherland. A four foot tall bronze statue, created by Abilio Valverdee, was inaugurated in the beginning of the 1990´s in Braulio Carrillo Park, located in front of La Merced Church.
5. San Juan de Dios Hospital
Located on 0 Avenue, 14th Street
In 1845, a law was put into place that dealt with the urgency of the creation of a place to treat sick people. The creation of the San Juan de Dios Hospital was a significant development with respect to health issues, particularly among poorer population.
The first building was inaugurated in 1852, however, the construction of the pavilion continued until 1855. The materials used were basically adobe and bahareque, which gave it a colonial feel with interior patios. For more than a century, the management and care of the health center was in the hands of the Sisters of Charity, a religious order that also ran several other hospitals that went by the same name in other countries in Latin America. In 1895, an expansion process began, which included the construction of new pavilions with neogothic elements: the ornamentation of the facade, pointed windows, and small rose windows that capped the windows on the second floor.
The hospital became an extensive two floor ¨L-shaped¨ building and in brick. In the 1920´s, the building was remodeled and the facades of the building were completely transformed into the somber design that stands today. Today, the hospital complex is the result of a series of changes over time with some neoclassic and Art Deco elements implemented by the famous architects such as León Tessier, AugustoFla-Chebba and José María Barrantes Monge. In 1934, the Art Deco Echandí Boarding House and the off-site consulting office were designed by the architect José Francisco Salazar. It was declared a Historical and Architectural landmark on October 25th, 1994.
6. Historic Chapuí Chape
Located on 0 Avenue, 16th and 20th Street
In 1883, it was decided to construct a building to treat mental health patients that would come to be known as The National Mental Health Hospital or Chapuí Asylum. Between 1886 and 1890, two pavilions and a chapel were built. It had a symmetrical design stemming from the chapel. The neoclassic pavilions were designed by the engineer, Jaime Carranza, while the chapel retained a neogothic style created bythe engineer Bertoglio and Mr. Manuel Quirós. The hospital had wide open gardens and was inaugurated by President Carlos Durán Cartin (1889-1890).
7. Home of Pozuelo Azuola Family
Located on 0 Avenue, 20th and 22nd Street
This residential home was built in 1941 in re-enforced concrete and brick for the family of Alejandro Pozuelo Apestegui and FloraAzuola Salazar. Its neoclassic design was by the architect, José María Barrantes Monge. In the 1930´s, and 40´s, this type of construction with respect to its materials and architectural design was much sought after by the upper class that settled in and around Paseo Colón. In this period, there was also incentive to populate this sector of the city. The homes displayed white walls, tiled roofs, arched porches, carved wood designs, and large gardens.
The geometrically designed floors are from the Mrs. Adela de Jiménez. Factory. There is a decorated central patio with mosaics brought over from Mexico. The home today belongs to the brothers José Miguel Fernando and Alejandro Pozuelo Azuola. In the 1970´s, the facade underwent some modifications to expand the sides and build a bathroom on the second floor. A railed fence was also installed to protect the external garden.
8. Juan Rafael Mora Porras School
Located on 1st and 3rd Avenue, 22nd and 24th Street
In 1914,the Juan Rafael Mora School opened in the historic Main Barracks (the space currently occupied by the Melico Salazar theater). In 1924, a strong earthquake caused irreparable damage to the structure. In 1928, a new building was constructed in its place to serve as the education center on a piece of land located on Paseo Colón and belongs to the Education Board of the City of San José. In 1934, it was inaugurated during the Ricardo Jimenez Oreamuno administration (1932-1936) based on the design by the architect Jose María Barrantes, and overseen by the engineer Lucas Fernández.
The construction process was in the hands of the company owned by Enrique Cappella. The re-enforced concrete structure has a neoclassic style, eclectic ornamentation, 18 rooms, and two central patios. When the new school opened its doors, it was surrounded by fields that extended to Barrio Mexico. In the 1950´s, it functioned simultaneously as the Brazilian School for Girls and the Juan Rafael Mora School for Boys. In 1975, they merged under the latter’s name.
9. Culinary Training School
Located on 2nd Avenue, 26th and 28th Street
In 1941, this neoclassic home was designed and built by the architect, José María Barrantes Monge, for the family of Manuel Emilio Clare. The neoclassic style was widely popular during this time in the upper class neighborhoods of the capital: Paseo Colón, Escalante and González Lahman. In 1951, it was acquired by the family of Oscar Herrera Mata and Hortensia Sotillo Jiménez, but after the death of his wife, he was re-married to Hermelinda Rojas Gamboa. The home is made of brik and has Cristobal wood posts in the dinning room and two rooms. In 1965, some modifications were made to the structure and expansion on the second floor. In 2010, it was acquired by Carolina Coronado in order to set up a culinary school.
10. Hostel Aldea
Located on 2nd Avenue, 28th Street
In 1938, the family of Humberto Barahona Briones and Lia Strever Muñoz, constructed a house. The Victorian-style home was built entirely from wood by the builder, Nicolás Montero. In 1939, the government of Leon Cortes (1936-1940) expelled Humberto Barahona from Costa Rica, who was of Nicaraguan decent, because of his opposition to the visit of the dictator Anastasio Somoza García. His family remained in the country and for economic reasons they lost the house and eventually moved to Mexico.
In 1946, the house was acquired by the family of Julio César Ovares and MaríaSalazar Alvarado. Ovares was a physician at San Juan de Dios Hospital and because of this heset up a doctor´s office in part of the house. The house was inherited by Marta Ovares Salazar and her husband Fernando Guzmán Mata (who was the Vice President of the republic from 1974 to 1978). Finally, after having been used for various commercial purposes, among them being offices for the Cooperative movement and for almost twenty years as the Petit Victoria Hostal. It currently serves as a hostel.
11. Home of the Jiménez Montealegre Family
Located on 0 Avenue, 28th Street
This home was constructed between 1952 and 1953 by the family of Adolfo Jiménez de la Guardia and Luz Montealegre Gutiérrez. It was built in re-enforced concrete by the engineer, Federico Jiménez Montealegre. In 1994, it was handed down to Ileana Jiménez Montealegre. In 2006, the house was taken over by the UNESCO branch in Costa Rica. The residential home was constructed of very fine materials with fine wood finishes. The ceilings have maderay wood beams and artistically designed polychromatic moldings. There double doors are hand crafted and framed in granite. The vestibule and the staircases were created by Louis Ferón in forged iron. Ferón was an accomplished French goldsmith who came to Costa Rica in the mid 1930´s. In 1939, he was in charge of the design and construction of the stucco wall that covers the walls of the Gold Room and the old international airport in La Sabana, which today is home to the Costa Rica Art Museum.
12. Securities Exchange S.A.
Located on 0 Avenue, 26th Street
At the beginning of the XX century, David Stewart, a native of New Zealand, (also known as George Wilson) arrived to Costa Rica. Here he married Orfilia Bonilla from Alajuela. The family built their wood home during the 1920´s, at a time when the area around La Sabana Street (later Paseo Colón) was seeing an influx of wealthy residence. Over time, the home was passed down to their son Donaldo Stewart Bonilla and his wife, Rosa Clachar. Patricia Stewart Cachar was the last owner of this house originating from this family. Since it was sold, it has been used for a variety of commercial purposes. It was the headquarters of the Cooperative Bank and finally, VALCO.
13. Hotel Rosa del Paseo
Located on 0 Avenue, 28th and 30th Street
In 1910, this French Bahareque home was constructed in Victorian style based on the designs of the architect Luis Llachllagostera from Catalan, Spain. The home, which belonged to Cecilia Montealegre, is typical of the architecture that the upper class built along Paseo Colón during the first half of the XX century. It is heavily decorated around its doors and windows that lead to the external corridor, in the highest of Art Noveau style. It has a raised ceiling, which houses an attic. It displays Californian bay windows. In 1992, the house was acquired by the family of Fernando del Risco Zaldívar and Pala Gallegos, both of Peruvian origin. In 1993, the home underwent a restoration and expansion process and was finally converted into the Rosa del Paseo Hotel.
14. Bust of Chieftain Garabito
Located on 4th Avenue, 36th Street
In 1524, the Spaniards founded the Town of Brussels in the Nicoya Gulf area. It only existed for a short time due to the uprisings of the indigenous tribes in the foothills of the Tilarán Mountain. One of the chieftains that put up the greatest resistance was Garabito, who controlled a vast area of land that stretched from El Guarco Valley, in Cartago, to the Nicoya Gulf and part of the Northern Plains. He was an indomitable warrior that the conquerors found very difficult to subdue. The name that he is known by comes from the Spanish captain Andrés de Garabito. An artificial stone bust, measuring three feet high and created by the artist, Oscar Bákit, was inaugurated in 1970.
15. Capris Médica Home
Located on 2nd Avenue, 40th Street
This home was created for Antonio Escarré in 1942 as Cruxen House. It was designed in neocolonial style by the architect José María Barrantes Monge. This architect used the neoclassical style in many of his designs for homes built for the upper class of the capital. Escarré was the first General Director of Sports from 1953 to 1964 and his name was given to the baseball stadium in the area of San Cayetano. Over time, the house was passed on to the family of Pérez Soto, who opened a restaurant there called La Masía. In 1994, it was purchased by Capris Médica and a year later the architect Carlos Ossenbach Sauter did some remodeling and restoration which included restoring the hand-carved mahogany doors, the balconies, staircases, and the forged iron gate.
16. National Gymnasium
Located on 10th Avenue, 42nd Street
Since the first few decades of the XX century, basketball started to rise in popularity in Costa Rica, which led to various improvised gymnasiums being built; among them, a Jai a Lai court, located at the south end of the present day Social Security Plaza and the Mendoza gym, located south of Clinica Biblica, around the old National Trophy Factory. By the end of the 1950´s, it was decided to build a national gymnasium at the far end of La Sabana field. On February 19th, the National Gymnasium was inaugurated by the president of the Republic, Mario Echandi Jiménez (1958-1962), by hosting the VII Central American and Caribbean Basketball Championship, in the presence of the General Director of Sports, Antonio Escarré, and various sport delegations, and the public in general, who came to witness this event. The gym is an ellipsoidal design elevated on concrete blocks and surfaced with metal sheets. It has a capacity for 4,000 people. Even though the gym is designed primarily for sporting events, it has also been used throughout history for various religious, political, and cultural events.
17. The Costa Rican Art Museum
This museum holds around 6,400 different pieces of art, the majority from national artists, from the 19th century until the present. Besides the expositions, it engenders critical thought about national art within an international context. The exhibition layout is located in the old international airport built in 1940. It has galleries such as the “Sculpture Gardens” and “The Golden Room” where various cultural events are held and segments of the country’s history are laid out in bas-relief. The MAC supplements these events by means of conferences open to the public.
Hours: Tuesdays - Sunday: 9:00 – 16:00,
Tel.: (506) 2222-7155 Web: www.musarco.go.cr
18. Monument to Lic. León Cortés Castro.
Located on 0 Avenue, 42nd Street
León Cortés Castro (1882-1946), a lawyer by profession, started an amazing political career, which started by occupying posts as an alderman, City Governor and Plaza Chief in his hometown of Alajuela. He also held positions as a public official on various occasions including, State Secretary and President of the Republic (1936-1940). His government is noted for taking on extensive public works which allowed it to donate various and significant school buildings city halls to a large number of communities throughout the country. A four foot high bronze sculpture of him, created by the artist, Leoni Tommasi, was inaugurated in 1952.
19. La Sabana City Park
Located on 3rd and 10th Avenue, 42 Street
The land where today functions as a park is part of the legacy that it was donated in 1783 by the FatherChapuí de Torres, to all those that wanted to come to live in the small town of San José. Towards 1830, Costa Rica´s first Chief of State, Juan Mora Fernández (1824-1833), and the Municipality of San José, decided to preserve this area at all costs and even put it into legislation. The concept of a park had never existed in Costa Rica, but the space began to take life and was covered with some trees. Therefore, foreign visitors that came to the country in the middle of the XIX century saw it as a beautifully well kept resting spot, similar to those that existed in Europe. At the beginning of the XX century, sports like soccer, baseball, and polo started to be played there. They also installed a track. In 1915, in a small area on the south end was the Children´s Forest, with a lake.
In the 1930´s, its development as a sports and recreation was abruptly halted with the arrival of aviation and the inauguration of the La Sabana International Airport in 1940. However, after many battles, it was recovered again and in 1976 it began to take shape as a park thanks to the management of the then Minister of Culture, Youth, and Sports, Guido Sáenz González. The design of the 168 acre park is the work of the landscape architect, José Antonio Quesada García. The proposal established extensive areas for sports, a lake, and large areas of green and forested areas. It was declared a Historical and Architectural landmark on February 23rd, 2001.
20. The ICE History and Technology Museum
Located 4 blocks north of the central ICE offices Sabana
The museum’s goal is to share the history and development of the electrical and telecommunications services, highlighting the ICE’s technological and socioeconomic contributions to the country.
Hours: Mondays – Fridays: 8:00 - 16:00
Tel.: (506) 2000-6054 / 2000-6497
21. La Salle Natural Science Museum
Located in 12th Avenue, 68th Street within the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock building in the south side of La Sabana.
The museum possesses various displays of historic and scientific significance. It has more than 70,000 displays on exhibit in areas such as Paleontology, Geology, Malacology (some 14,000 samples), Invertebrates (a unique collection of some 14,000 specimens), fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals. A trip through this museum is worth the experience.
Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:00 - 14:00 Except Wednesday: 14:00 – 18:00 by appointment
Tel.: (506) 2520-1013