The city that is known today as San Jose came into being as a small town around the middle of the 16th century. This area was known as the Aserri Valley and was comprised of extensive grasslands with an altitude measuring between 3,600 and 4,100 ft. The main waterways are the Tiribi, Torres, Maria 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, “La 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 Jose in the second half of the 17th century, which generated revenue and led to economic development and strengthening of San Jose´s political role within the province. In 1813, Costa Rica´s representative in the Court of Cadiz, Father Florencio del Castillo, oversaw and obtained the title of “City” for San Jose. 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 Jose, Alajuela, Heredia or 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 Jose 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, Ludwig von Shamier, and Franz Rohrmoser, who were responsible for the most important construction project of the era.
In 1879, members of the Religious Order of Sion came to the country at the request of General Tomas Guardia in order to work on education reform in the city of Alajuela. In 1880, they moved to San Jose and between 1883 and 1887, they built a girl’s school and a convent for the Religious Order. This group of buildings was built in neoclassical 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, the Sion 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.
Located on Central and 1st Avenue, between 17th and 19th Street.
This magnificent neoclassical residential home was constructed in 1908 by the lawyer and well-known politician Maximo Fernandez. 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, including Alfredo Gonzalez Flores, Federico Tinoco Granados, Francisco Aguilar Barquero and Julio Acosta Garcia. 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 Gutierrez Cañas, and in 1989, it was taken over by the Legislative Assembly to serve as a branch of the Legislative Directory.
The Castillo Azul was constructed of 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 Maximo Fernandez 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.¨
Located on Central Avenue and 17th Street.
Tel.: (506) 2243-2545
In the 1920s, Cristina Castro, widow of Kieth Castro, 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 Jimenez did not authorize the construction due to its proximity to the Bellavista barracks. In 1939, the president Leon Cortes Castro bought the land from the church in order to build the presidential home there. Work began that same year in neoclassical style by the architect Jose Maria 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.
Located between Central and 1st Avenue and 15th Street.
Tel.: (506) 2243-2000
In 1870, the German naturalist, Alexander Von Frantzius, constructed his home in the area known as ¨Buenavista¨ due to its panoramic view of San Jose. In 1876, it was acquired by Mauro Fernandez. It was vacant between 1910 and 1914 and was then bought by the government of Alfredo Gonzalez 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-Columbian history and the other displays the history of Costa Rica.
Located on Central and 2nd Avenue, between 15th and 17th Street
Tel.: (506) 2257-1433
This plaza was inaugurated on November 7th, 1989 with many 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 Jose Joaquin Rodriguez 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.
Located on Central and 2nd Avenue, in front of the National Museum.
Located in its new building inaugurated in 2014, the Jade museum exhibits the largest collection of pre-Columbian 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.
Located on 13th Street, between Central and 2nd Avenue.
Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tel.: (506) 2521-6610
On April 26, 1917, the mission board of the Episcopal Methodist Church, located in Mexico, decided to take on a missionary project in Costa Rica. Reverend Miller traveled to Costa Rica in 1919 and acquired a property at the bottom of Cuesta de Moras belonging to Club Catalan. For a short time it served as the Redeemer Baptist Church, until a new church was constructed in 1940 made of brick and mortar.
Located on Central Avenue, between 9th and 11th Street.
Tel.: (506) 2236-2171
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.
Located 9th Street, between 4th and 6th Avenue.
A doctor, counselor, and Congressional official, he was elected president of the Republic in 1940. He promoted important social reforms in his time. An elections fraud charge provoked an armed conflict that kept him in exile for 14 years. He was named “Benemerito de la Patria.”
Located in Social Guarantee Plaza on 5th Street, between 4th and 6th Avenue.
The 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.
Located 3th Street, between 4th and 6th Avenue.
During the 19th century and into the 20th 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 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 Jose, Heredia and Limon, where the majority of the churches are located.
Located on 4th Avenue, between 3rd and 5th Street.
Tel.: (506) 2222-1560
The Culture Plaza project came about during the Daniel Oduber Quiros’ administration. Its objective was to create a 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 Borbon and the engineer Samuel Rovinsky. The culture complex was inaugurated on February 26, 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-Columbian Gold Museum, the Central Bank Coin Collection Museum, a library, an auditorium and open areas for temporary exhibitions and other events.
Located on Central and 2nd Avenue, between 3rd and 5th Street.
Business Hours: Monday to Sunday from 9:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. 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.
In 1890, the Spanish theater businessman, Tomas Garcia, 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 Jose. In 1906, the national tenor, Manuel (Melico) Salazar, made his debut in the opera Bohemios. Around 1913, the theater was sold to Nicolas Chavarria Mora, Alberto Echandi, Jose Zeledon, and Jose Rafael Chacon, who were 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 theater.
The Teatro Variedades 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.
Located on 5th Street, between Central and 1st Avenue.
Tel.: (506) 2222-6108
This building was constructed in the beginning of the 20th 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 neoclassical building, which was typical of the commercial buildings of that time. It belongs to the Anderson Saenz Family. Its significance as a historical heritage site complements the Variety Theater.
Located on 5th Street, Central and 1st Avenue.
This building was constructed between 1890 and 1897 with public funds. The designs were drawn up by the engineers Luis Matamoros, Nicolas Chavarria, 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 19th century. The exterior displays allegories of Dance, Music, and Fame (the current ones are replicas). There are also sculptures by renowned Italian artists including Pietro Bulgarelli, Adriatico Froli, and Pietro Capurro. The interior displays valuable paintings by Paolo Serra, Juigi Vignani, Roberto Fontana, Jose Villa, and Tomas Povedano.
Located on 2nd Avenue, between 3rd and 5th Street.
Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tuesdays: Theater at noon.
Tours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. except at noon.
Tel.: (506) 2221-3756
A teacher, judge and politician during the Independence era and first Chief of State from 1824-1833, he was declared “Distinguished Citizen” (Benemerito de la Patria), awarded by the National Congress in 1848.
Located in the plaza in front of the National Theater, 2nd Ave & 3rd Street.
This brick and concrete building was constructed between 1928 and 1930 in neoclassical style in brick and cement. The job was directed by the engineer Victor Lorenz. The first owner was Dr. Luis Paulino Jimenez 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 Jose, with many famous foreigners traveling to Costa Rica who stayed in the hotel.
Located on 2nd Avenue and 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.
Located on 2nd Avenue, 3rd Street.
This building was constructed during the first decade of the 20th 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 Anglo de Costa Rica. It has also been occupied by various public offices including 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. One of the tourism information offices of the Costa Rica Tourism Board is located here.
Located on Central Avenue, 1st and 3rd Street.
Tel.: (506) 2010-7400
In 1895, the German Antonio Lehmann Merz immigrated 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 20th century, this has been one of the most important bookstores in the country. The building was constructed in 1914 in neoclassical style by the architect Gerardo Rovira. It was made in brick with a metal surface and on the facade there are eight 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 Knohr and the historic Ministry of Economy is an important collection of architectural works that are representative of San Jose in the beginning of the 20th century.
Located on Central Avenue, 1st and 3rd Street.
This neoclassical building was constructed between 1912 and 1914 by Almacen 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.
Located on Central Avenue, 1st Street.
At the end of the 19th 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 Jose during the first half of the 20th century. In the 1940s, the commercial building closed its doors and in the beginning of the 1960s, 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.
Located on 1st Street, Central and 1st Avenue.
At the end of the 18th century, the chapel of San Jose 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.
Located on Central Street, between 2nd and 4th Avenue.
Tel.: (506) 2258-1015 or (506) 2221-3820
This Italian Carrara marble statue was sculpted by Jorge Jimenez 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.
Located on Central Street, 2th Avenue.
In 1868, in light of the recently inaugurated water system in San Jose, a fountain was erected in the main San Jose 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.
Located between Central and 1st Street, between 2nd and 4th Avenue.
Made by the sculptor, Edgar Zuñiga, it was erected in Central Park in 2003. It is in honor of all the city workers in San Jose, who we see cleaning the city’s parks and streets.
Located on 2th Avenue, between Central and 1st Street.
Its construction was completed in 1928 by the designer Jose Fabio Garnier. In the beginning it was called Raventos 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.
Located on 2th Avenue, Central Street.
Theater: Guided tours by appointment
Events: See marquee
Tel.: (506) 2221-4952 or (506) 2233-5424
In the middle of the 19th century, a 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. This hardware store became the prototype for all commercial establishments which, since the end of the 19th 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 Chamberlain rented it to convert it into a handicraft market called La Casona. The structure was redone in neoclassical 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.
Located on Central Street, between Central and 1st Avenue.
Monday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
This building was constructed in 1897 as a commercial property and residential home of Angel Miguel Velasquez. 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 Ibis was held, one of the most exclusive bazaars of the first half of the 20th century. The building belongs to Iza Colombari. Only the facade of the original structure remains while the interior has been completely remodeled.
Located on Central Street, between 1st and 3rd Avenue.
In 1830, the sisters Jeronima and Maria Concepcion Quiros y Castro, 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 neoclassical style and over time has undergone various remodeling of the main facade. The interior displays an image of Jesus, 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 with the miracle that put an end to the cholera plague.
Located on 3rd Avenue, Central Street.
Tel.: (506) 2222-1435
This building was constructed in brick in the beginning of the 20th century and has a cement dome. The architectural design was done by the architect Daniel Dominguez Parraga and falls under the neoclassical style. It is used for commercial purposes.
This structure has served as Espriella and Company Hardware store, the Luis Olle Commercial Building, and the BIESA Bank. In 1988 it was acquired by the Banco de Costa Rica. Although the facade has remained virtually unchanged, internally it has undergone many changes and the original concrete dome collapsed by accident, which was replaced by a metal dome.
Located on 3rd Avenue, Central Street.
In the middle of the 19th century, this property belonged to Jesus Castro and Ana de Alvarado. In 1866, their daughter, Toribia Castro, sold it to Pedro Quiros Jimenez. Other owners have been Jose Maria Acosta Rojas, Jaime Guell Ferrer, and Julia Alvarez Cañas. 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 neoclassical 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 heritage site on February 23, 2000.
Located on 3rd Avenue, 2nd Street.
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 visitors to learn about the development of the Costa Rican Postal Service.
Located on 2nd Street, between 1st and 3rd Avenue.
Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Tel.: (506) 2223-1969
The Stamp Museum was created with a fascinating collection 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 enjoyed by visitors from near and far, especially school groups of all grades.
Tours: Interactive exhibits include stamp exchanges, samples, stamp displays, courses and tips on stamp collecting.
Located inside the Costa Rican Post Office.
Monday to Friday from 8 a.m.to 5 p.m.
Tel.: (506) 2223-6918
Mora Porras was a coffee grower who became 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 “Distinguished Citizen (Benemerito de la Patria) by the National Congress in 1850.
The monument represents 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.
Located on 2nd Street, between 1st and 3rd Avenue, in front of the Costa Rican Post Office.
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 Jose since 2003. “La Chola” was erected in 2004.
Located on Central Avenue, between 2nd and 4th Street.
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 Echeverria” award from the Ministry of Culture and Youth in 1982.
Located on 4th 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 Jose 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.
Located on 6th Street, Central & 1st Avenue.
Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tel.: (506) 2295-6104
In 1848, during the Jose Maria Castro Madriz administration, a land division was established for the city of San Jose, 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 in this area. Since the 1870s, the northeast sector of San Jose has brought together other development centers including the Atlantic Train Station and an array of diverse industries (brick factories, financial institutions, mills, and shops).
The urban growth of El Carmen District gained momentum after the 1890s when the elite residents of San Jose 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 Amon in 1892, Barrio Aranjuez in 1894 and Barrio Otoya much later in 1906. Along with the residential components to 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 Morazan Park (1887), Nacional Park (1895), España Park (1920), and Simon Bolivar 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.
This museum is in charge of preserving, recovering and sharing the legacy of the social reforms achieved between 1940 and 1944 by the “Distinguished Citizen” (Benemerito de la Patria), Dr. Calderon Guardia. There are four historical rooms that recreate the life and work of the ex-president and an art gallery for seasonal exhibits.
Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tel.: (506) 2222-6392 or (506) 2296-4503
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 Victor Manuel Sanabria Martinez. This neoclassical structure was made of re-enforced concrete with a metal frame, which was designed by the architect Jose Maria Barrantes Monge. The artist Luis Feron created the four evangelists located on the interior of the dome. Two stained glass windows remain from the old Colegio de Sion Chapel, which were brought from France.
Located on 23rd Street, 9th Avenue.
Tel.: (506) 2222-7131
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. Its area measures some 13,000 sq. ft.
This neoclassical building required thousands 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 both ornamental and lighting features on the facade of the building. In 1931, the government expanded the warehouse with re-enforced concrete and built as an 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 it into 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.
Located between 23rd and 25th Street, 7th and 9th Avenue.
Originally this building served as a customs warehouse on Carrillo, along the Sucio River in Guacimo, Limon. At the end of the 1890s, 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.
Located on 25th Street, 3rd & 9th Avenue.
Tel. (506) 2257-8305
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 Ortuño Sobrado, which was commemorated on April 26, 1982.
This impressive, historical artifact arrived in 1939 by boat at the Port of Limon 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.
At the end of the 19th century, the Atlantic Railroad Company was the largest in the country. The Victorian style building was constructed in 1908 in brick and the design was by the architect Jaime Carranza. The main facade features a figurehead flanked by the mythical figures Mercury and Venus. The handsome metal roof includes an attic.
Located on 3rd Avenue, between 17th and 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 fame 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.
Located on 1st & 3rd Avenue, between 15th & 19th Street.
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 who is fleeing 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, done by the sculptor Louis Carrier Belleuse and created in Paris in 1891.
A poet, writer, lawyer and Cuban politician, Marti 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 Rios. 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 done in bronze by the sculptor Tony Lopez. It was inaugurated in 1953 to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Marti.
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 valuable in the 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 Diaz Ordaz.
A writer, philologist, poet, legal advisor, and Venezuelan politician, Andres 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 Gramatica Castellana (Castillian Spanish Grammar) and poetry inspired by American events. This bronze bust was signed by L. Gonzalez 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.
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 Borbon Zellerde from the National Planning Office. It was constructed by the Carrez Ltd. Company. The building was given the name Miguel Obregon Lizano. The earthquake that affected Costa Rica in 1990 caused 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.
Located on 3rd Avenue, 15th and 17th Street.
Monday to Friday from: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tel.: (506) 2221-2479
During the Daniel Oduber Quiros administration (1974-1978), a group of buildings were demolished in order to make way for a new presidential house. The work remained unfinished when the administration of Rodrigo Carazo Odio (1978-1982) decided not to continue with the project. The project was restarted by the Rafael Angel Calderon Fournier (1990-1994) administration, with the intention of the building serving as home to the Supreme Elections Tribunal. It was inaugurated in 1995, during the Government of Jose Maria Figueres (1994-1998). The original design of the building was by the architect Jorge Bertheau and the final plan was by the architect Percy Zamora.
Located on 1st Avenue, 15th Street.
This neoclassical building was constructed near the end of the 1920s in re-enforced concrete and brick. The Union Motor Company used this three story building as offices and a sales room and more: a spare part warehouse, and a shop and garage. In 1950, this building was home to the Second Precinct of the Ministry of Public Safety.
Located on 3rd Avenue, between 11th and 15th Street.
This museum, inaugurated in 1994, is located within the historic National Liquor factory and is used to exhibit the latest in modern art. The main exhibition room showcases an old bodega for aged rum, built between 1853 and 1856 in pavas stone with almost three foot thick walls.
Located on 3rd Avenue, between 11th & 15th Street.
Monday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tel.: (506) 2257-7202
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 an 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 Jose. In 1992, the building was handed over to the Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports, and underwent necessary remodeling in order to become the home of the National Culture Center, inaugurated in February, 1994.
Located on 3rd and 7th Avenue, 11th and 15th Street.
Tours: Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Theater: Based on schedule
Tel.: (506) 2255-3628
This building was constructed in brick in the early 1880s. It was a machine plant for the first electric plant in San Jose which was owned by Luis Batres and Manuel Dengo. In 1930, the engineer Francisco Jimenez Ortiz acquired the building in order to develop a coffee mill and years later a glass and porcelain factory. In the beginning of the 1940s, 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 ornamentation on the facade and a central garden patio. Today it belongs to the Caleiro Association S.A.
Located on 7th Avenue, 15th Street.
In 1928, the government of Costa Rica donated the land to Mexico for the construction of the Diplomatic Legion of Mexico. The concrete block construction took place between April and November of the same year by the Mrs. Adela Gargollo de Jimenez Construction Company. The design is neocolonial by the architect Jose Francisco Salazar. It was inaugurated in December of the same year by the president Cleto Gonzalez Viquez and the ambassador Antonio Mediz 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 Nuñez, who was representing Jose Figueres Ferrer and Manuel Mora Valverde.
Located on 7th Avenue, 11th and 15th Street.
This neoclassical building was designed by the famous painter and architect, Teodorico Quiros, and was made from re-enforced concrete between 1939 and 1940 by the engineer Francisco Jimenez Ortiz. This elegant three floor building has Solomonic columns, balconies, and large concave glass windows, which were imported from England. The building belongs to the Sociedad Mita de San Jose S.A.
Located on 7th Avenue, 11th Street.
In 1912, the North American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated $100,000 to build the Central American Justice Court building in San Jose. The brick 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 including the Presidential House, the National Congress and the Ministry of Foreign Relations. The ¨Casa Amarilla,¨ or Yellow House, is greatly decorated in baroque fashion. The name of the building where the chancellery now operates comes from the traditional color which it was originally painted.
Located on 3th Avenue, 15/17th Street.
Business Hours: Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tel.: (506) 2223-7555
Located at the entrance to the National Insurance Institute, it was created by the Costa Rican sculptor Francisco Zuñiga at the request of the Executive President of the institution. It represents a busy, hardworking and humble family. It was unveiled in April of 1978.
Located on 3th Avenue, 15th Street.
This public area evolved 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 in the process of 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 weekends. 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 1940s, Mario Gonzalez Feo, the manager of the Liquor Factory made a series of improvements to the park, such as the construction of a small hut decorated with mosaics with a tile roof, as well as park benches and plants. The latest remodeling was done 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:
Located on 3rd and 7th Avenue, 9th and 11th Street.
This priest was sworn in on November 6, 1824 as a public official of 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 clothes washing centers located in Barrio Amon. This bronze bust is the work of the sculptor Juan Ramon Bonilla, and was inaugurated in 1918.
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 including State Advisor in 1870, Minister to the Tomas Guardia regime and interim President of the Republic in 1874. He is considered a great social benefactor. The bronze sculpture, which stood in the General Cemetery by the artist Juan Ramon Bonilla, was inaugurated in 1918.
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 Jose (today known as the Casa Amarilla). This bronze bust is the work of Juan Ramon Bonilla and was inaugurated in 1918.
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.
Coronado 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 Jose Antonio Marquez and donated by the Hispanic Culture Institute of Madrid. It was inaugurated on October 12, 1977.
Isabel was the Queen of Castile and thanks to her marriage to Fernando de Aragon, 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. Gonzalez and was sculpted by Jose Plañez.
In 1890, during the brief administration of Carlos Duran Cartin, a contract was signed with the Forging Association of Aiseau, Belgium to construct a metal building with neoclassical design created by the architect Charles Thirion. The purpose was to serve as the San Jose Graduated School for Boys and Girls. At the end of 1892, the pieces of the building arrived in 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 after the 1889 International Exhibition in Paris, where the famous Eiffel Tower was inaugurated, designed by the engineer Gustavo Eiffel.
Located on 5th Avenue, 9th Street.
Part of the area today that is known as Morazan 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 the open public area of Laguna Plaza. By a decree on September 15, 1887, the park was created and named after General Francisco Morazan. 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 1950s. The latest remodeling took place in 1991 in order to give it a feel of what it looked like at the beginning of the 20th century. The following sculptures can be found in the park:
Located on 3rd Avenue, 5th and 9th Street.
Flamenco was born in San Esteban, in the department of San Vincente, El Salvador. In 1915, he settled 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 executed on July 19, 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 Ramon Bonilla.
A Venezuelan general and statesman, Bolivar was 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 includes “Mi Delirio el 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.
O’Higgins was 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 Martin to organize a liberating army. The military victory of Maipu led to the Independence of Chile. This bronze bust is the work of Luis Umaña Ruiz and was inaugurated in 1983.
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 Tomas. He also held a position as the State Tax, Commerce and Public Instruction Secretary Department under the government of Bernardo Soto. Through this important position, 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 the shops of the Pacific Railroad company and was inaugurated on December 19, 1943.
Garcia held various public positions and later led the Sapoa revolutionary movement (1919) against the dictatorship the of the Tinoco brothers. He was elected president of Costa Rica in 1920 and served until 1924. During his government, he created the Control Office, today called the General Comptroller of the Republic, and he 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.
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 19th 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 in Costa Rica and contributed to the defeat of Braulio Carillo, but he could not consolidate his government and shortly thereafter, he was taken prisoner and shot on September 15, 1842 in San Jose´s Central Park. In 1887, the government decided to create Morazan Park, near the Liquor factory and in 1993 a bronze effigy was placed there, created by the sculptor, Fernando Calvo.
Sarmiento was an Argentinean politician, writer and pedagogue. He worked in journalism for the newspaper El Mercurio in Chile. In 1868, he replaced Bartolome Mitre as president of the Republic of Argentina. Some of his writings are Trips (Viajes), Recuerdos de mi Provincia (Memories of my Province), Mi Defensa (My Defense),Campaña en el Ejercito Grande (the Big Army) and Conflicto y Armonia de las Razas en America (Conflict and Harmony among the people of America). This bronze bust is the work of the Argentinean sculptor, Luigi Perlottiy, and was first displayed in the 1950s.
In 1920, the Year-end Festival Commission decided to build a kiosk made of re-enforced concrete in Morazan Park. The design was by the architect Jose 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 25, of the same year, in order to be ready for the holiday festivals of San Jose. This historical heritage site offers excellent acoustic qualities for concerts and performances.
This Victorian-style home was constructed in the first half of the 20th 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 stained 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 Gurdian Morales.
Located on 3rd Avenue, 9th Street.
(Now Bar Key Largo)
This home was built near the end of the 19th century by the Herran family, in-laws of the ex-president Cleto Gonzalez Viquez. 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-1970s, the 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. It now belongs to Maximiliano Gurdian.
Located on 3rd Avenue, 7th 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 Jimenez Ortiz. Over time, it has been used as residential housing, business, and offices. In the 1940s, it was leased to the Costa Rican Railroad Company. It is representative of the neoclassical style. Some of its unique elements are a vestibule with a domed roof, iron –rail balconies, floral terraced columns plus dormer windows with monitors in the roof.
Located on 1st Avenue, 5th Street.
This noble residence was constructed with a mix of styles at the beginning of the 20th 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.
Located on 5th Street, 1st and 3rd Avenue.
In 1893, Aman Fasileau Duplantier sold this land to Manuel Sandoval Jimenez, 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 Amon. In 1965, it was converted into the Costa Rican-French Alliance headquarters.
Located on 5th Avenue, 7th Street.
Tel.: (506) 2222-2283
Located on 9th Avenue, 5th Street.
This Pine Tea wood plank home was built in 1924 by Aniceto Esquivel Carranza. 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 handsome symmetrical layout with large guillotine windows and diamond-shaped ornamentation.
This brick home, built in 1910 was the residence of Mariano Alvarez Melgar. Alvarez Melgar worked as a Spanish consulate in Costa Rica. The building has an Arabic-style facade, with cornices and door and window frames. The main access leads to a corridor with iron arches, supported by wall columns and ironwood finish.
Located on 9th Avenue, 3rd Street.
This monumental home was constructed in the 1920s for Alejo Aguilar. Its eclectic architecture combines various neoclassical elements in the tower plus half-point arches with a tiled roof, classic windows and cantilevers made from fine wood with balustrades and dressed stone in the crowns of the facade.
Located on 9th Avenue, 3rd Street.
This brick house was built near the end of the 19th century and was home to General Joaquin 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 Joaquin Tinoco was a member of the de facto government, he had many enemies.
Located on 9th 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 neoclassical 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 Le Chambort Restaurant and the Hotel Britania. It now is a Government office.
Located on 11th Avenue, 3rd Street.
This home was built in 1923 by the wealthy businessman Luis Olle, the founder of the store with the same name. It has a neoclassical feel with an asymmetric layout. Some of its architectural elements are dressed stone in its facade, a portico entrance with Doric columns and a double staircase that leads to the balustrade and garden.
Located on 11th Avenue, 3rd Street.
This building is the most enigmatic and unique of its kind located in Barrio Amon. It was constructed in the 1920s as a residence 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 stained 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 20th century, it was acquired by the Archbishop Carlos Humberto Rodriguez Quiros, who lived there for many years. It now serves as a restaurant.
Located on 13th Avenue, 3rd Street.
The Costa Rican Center of Science and Culture: “The foundation helps us help each other.” Visitors are often 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 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.
Tuesday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tel.: (506) 2258-4929
In the beginning of the 1940s, the urbanization of the Paseo Colon 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 close down the plantations to the west 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 10th Avenue, east along 20th Street, and north along 3rd Avenue.
Paseo Colon in the 1950s 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 Colon (especially the Pithaya and San Bosco neighborhoods) began to see a significant influx of Jewish families. In this area, the Israeli Center and Synagogue were built in addition to significant housing neighborhoods. This was largely due to Jewish people leaving Europe after the Second World War looking to settle in more peaceful countries.
The area around Paseo Colon also saw an influx of respectable Lebanese people settling in the area. The architecture of the area at that time around Paseo Colon 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.
In 1924, during the Ricardo Jimenez 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 Jose Fire Department would be built next to La Merced Church. It is important to remember that ever since this time the San Jose 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 of the Institute was constructed in re-enforced concrete in Art Deco style. Its design belongs to the architect Jose Maria Barrantes Monge. Both buildings have a notable symmetry in their facades, while their 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 heritage site on November 30, 2004.
Located on 0 and 2nd Avenue, 10th Street.
In 1815, the priest Encarnacion Fernandez obtained permission to build an adobe chapel on the site where the Central Bank stands today. 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 plaza (today it is the Braulio Carrillo Park). In 1894, during the leadership of Father Santiago Zuñiga, construction began anew. The neo-gothic design belonged to the engineer Lesmes Jimenez Bonnefil and the architect Jaime Carranza Aguilar. In 1907, its steel frame, brick walls, and cut-stone base construction was finished. It has a unique tower with pointed windows, a rose window, buttresses, and three naves. In 1920, the Italian artist Adriano Arie 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 Jimenez. The focus of the interior is on the Christ in Agony sculpture, created by Manuel Zuñiga, as well as the stained glass windows. A staircase flanked by a balustrade provides access to the building; both are made of soft stone. On September 12, 1969, it was blessed by the Archbishop Carlos Humberto Rodriguez Quiros. In 2002, a long restoration process began. In 2010, a ten foot sculpture created by the Argentinean artist Josefina Genovese of piled stone was placed in its gardens and dedicated to the Way of Christ. It was declared a historical and architectural heritage site on June 11, 1996.
Located on 2nd and 4th Avenue, 10th and 12th Street.
In the first half of the 19th century, on the site where today the La Merced Church is located, a plaza for taking siestas was created, and on the west side (where Braulio Carrillo Park is located today), is an enormous mansion. In the 1820s, an adobe building was constructed. It was known as the Meson 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 19th 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 Gonzalez Viquez, had the building demolished in order to build a new public plaza and improve the area around the La Merced Church which was under construction, and the San Juan de Dios Hospital. The Congress decided to transform it into a park and name it Braulio Carrillo Park. By 1908, it was a wooded area and its perimeter had a brick wall of about 5 feet high.
Located on 2nd and 4th Avenue, 12th and 14th Street.
Braulio Carrillo (1800-1845) was born in La Chinchilla of San Rafael of Oreamuno of Cartago. He studied at Leon 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 Ambulance Law, and establishing San Jose as the capital (1835), promoting construction of sidewalks and bridges and paving the main roads of San Jose.
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 Morazan and forced to exile in El Salvador, where he was assassinated in 1845. He is widely considered the ¨Architect of the Republic of Costa Rica.¨ In 1971 the title of Meritorious of the Motherland was bestowed on him. A four foot tall bronze statue, created by Abilio Valverdee, was inaugurated in the beginning of the 1990s in Braulio Carrillo Park, located in front of La Merced Church.
Located on 2nd Avenue, 12th and 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 the 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 neo-gothic elements including 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¨ brick building. In the 1920s, 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 neoclassical and Art Deco elements implemented by the famous architects Leon Tessier, Augusto Fla-Chebba and Jose Maria Barrantes Monge. In 1934, the Art Deco Echandi Boarding House and the off-site consulting office were designed by the architect Jose Francisco Salazar. It was declared a historical and architectural heritage site on October 25, 1994.
Located on 0 Avenue, 14th 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 Chapui Asylum. Between 1886 and 1890, two pavilions and a chapel were built. It had a symmetrical design stemming from the chapel. The neoclassical pavilions were designed by the engineer Jaime Carranza while the chapel retained a neo-gothic style created by the engineer Bertoglio and Manuel Quiros. The hospital had wide open gardens and was inaugurated by President Carlos Duran Cartin (1889-1890).
Located on 0 Avenue, 16th and 20th Street.
This residential home was built in 1941 in re-enforced concrete and brick for the family of Alejandro Pozuelo Apestegui and Flora Azuola Salazar. Its neoclassical design was by the architect Jose Maria Barrantes Monge. In the 1930s, and 40s, this type of construction and architectural design was much sought after by the upper class that settled in and around Paseo Colon. In this period, there was also incentive to populate this sector of the city. The homes often featured white walls, tiled roofs, arched porches, carved wood designs and large gardens.
The geometrically designed floors are from the Adela de Jimenez Factory. There is a decorated central patio with mosaics from Mexico. The home today belongs to the brothers Jose Miguel Fernando and Alejandro Pozuelo Azuola. In the 1970s, the facade underwent some modifications to expand the sides and on the second floor while a railed fence was also installed around the external garden.
Located on 0 Avenue, 20th and 22nd 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, an 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 Colon belonging to the Education Board of the City of San Jose. In 1934, it was inaugurated during the Ricardo Jimenez Oreamuno administration (1932-1936) based on the design by the architect Jose Maria Barrantes and overseen by the engineer Lucas Fernandez.
The construction was done by a company owned by Enrique Cappella. The re-enforced concrete structure has a neoclassical 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 1950s, 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.
Located on 1st and 3rd Avenue, 22nd and 24th Street.
In 1941, this neoclassical home was designed and built by the architect Jose Maria Barrantes Monge for the family of Manuel Emilio Clare. The neoclassical style was widely popular during this time in the upper class neighborhoods of Paseo Colon, Escalante and Gonzalez Lahman in the capital. In 1951, it was acquired by the family of Oscar Herrera Mata and Hortensia Sotillo Jimenez, but after the death of his wife, he married Hermelinda Rojas Gamboa. The home is made of brick and has Cristobal wood posts in the dining and other rooms. In 1965, 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.
Located on 2nd Avenue, 26th and 28th Street.
In 1938, the family of Humberto Barahona Briones and Lia Strever Muñoz, constructed a Victorian-style home built entirely from wood by the builder Nicolas 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 Garcia. 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 Cesar Ovares and Maria Salazar Alvarado. Ovares was a physician at “San Juan de Dios” Hospital and because of this he set up a doctor´s office in part of the house. The house was inherited by Marta Ovares Salazar and her husband Fernando Guzman 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 Hostel, it currently serves as a hostel.
Located on 2nd Avenue, 28th Street.
This home was constructed between 1952 and 1953 by the family of Adolfo Jimenez de la Guardia and Luz Montealegre Gutierrez. It was built of re-enforced concrete by the engineer Federico Jimenez Montealegre. In 1994, it was handed down to Ileana Jimenez 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 wood beams and artistically designed polychromatic moldings. The double doors are hand crafted and framed in granite. The vestibule and staircases were created by Louis Feron in forged iron. Feron was an accomplished French goldsmith who came to Costa Rica in the mid-1930s. 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.
Located on 0 Avenue, 28th Street.
At the beginning of the 20th century, David Stewart, a native of New Zealand, (also known as George Wilson) arrived in Costa Rica and married Orfilia Bonilla from Alajuela. The family built their wood home during the 1920s, at a time when the area around La Sabana Street (later Paseo Colon) was seeing an influx of wealthy residents. 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.
Located on 0 Avenue, 26th Street.
In 1910, this French bahareque home was constructed in Victorian style based on the designs of the architect Luis Llachllagostera from Catalonia, Spain. The home, which belonged to Cecilia Montealegre, is typical of the architecture that the upper class built along Paseo Colon during the first half of the 20th century. It is heavily decorated around its doors and windows that lead to the external corridor, in the highest of Art Noveau style. It displays Californian bay windows. In 1992, the house was acquired by the family of Fernando del Risco Zaldivar 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.
Located on 0 Avenue, 28th and 30th Street.
In 1524, 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 Tilaran 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 Andres de Garabito. An artificial stone bust, measuring three feet high and created by the artist Oscar Bakit was inaugurated in 1970.
Located on 4th Avenue, 36th Street.
This home was created for Antonio Escarre in 1942 as Cruxen House. It was designed in neocolonial style by the architect Jose Maria Barrantes Monge. This architect used the neoclassical style in many of his designs for homes built for the upper class of the capital. Escarre 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 Perez Soto, who opened a restaurant there called La Masia. In 1994, it was purchased by Capris Medica and a year later the architect Carlos Ossenbach Sauter remodeled and restored the home including the hand-carved mahogany doors, balconies, staircases and the forged iron gate.
Located on 2nd Avenue, 40th Street.
Since the first few decades of the 20th 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 1950s, it was decided to build a national gymnasium at the far end of La Sabana field. On February 19, the National Gymnasium was inaugurated by the president of the Republic, Mario Echandi Jimenez (1958-1962), by hosting the VII Central American and Caribbean Basketball Championship, in the presence of the General Director of Sports, Antonio Escarre, 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.
Located on 10th Avenue, 42nd Street.
This museum holds approximately 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. It 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 parts of the country’s history are laid out in bas-relief. The MAC supplements these events by means of conferences open to the public.
Located on 42nd Street.
Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tel.: (506) 2222-7155
Leon Cortes Castro (1882-1946), a lawyer by profession, started an amazing political career 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 and 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.
Located on 0 Avenue, 42nd Street.
This park is part of the legacy of Father Chapui de Torres, who donated the land in 1783. Towards 1830, Costa Rica´s first Chief of State, Juan Mora Fernandez (1824-1833), and the Municipality of San Jose, decided to preserve this area at all costs and put it into legislation. The concept of a park had never existed in Costa Rica, but the space began to take life. Foreign visitors that came to the country in the middle of the 19th century saw it as a beautifully well-kept resting spot, similar to grand parks that existed in Europe. At the beginning of the 20th century, sports including soccer, baseball and polo started to be played there while a track was also installed. In 1915, in a small area on the south end was created as the Children´s Forest centered with a lake.
In the 1930s, its development as a sports and recreation center was abruptly halted with the arrival of aviation and the inauguration of the La Sabana International Airport in 1940. However, after many civic, and civil 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 Saenz Gonzalez. The design of the 168 acre park is the work of the landscape architect Jose Antonio Quesada Garcia which established extensive areas for sports, a lake, and large areas of green and forested areas. It was declared a historical and architectural heritage site on February 23, 2001.
Located on 3rd and 10th Avenue, 42 Street.
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.
Located four blocks north of the central ICE offices Sabana.
Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tel.: (506) 2000-6054 or (506) 2000-6497
21. La Salle Natural Science Museum
Located on 12th Avenue, 68th Street within the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock building in the south side of La Sabana.
The museum specializes in displays of historic and scientific significance. It has more than 70,000 displays on exhibit in areas such as Paleontology, Geology, Malacology (with some 14,000 examples), Invertebrates (a unique collection of some 14,000 specimens), fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals. A trip through this museum is worth the experience.
Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Except Wednesday: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. by appointment
Tel.: (506) 2520-1013