In 1536, the Spanish conqueror Juan Vazquez de Coronado established the boundaries of what would be later known as the city of Cartago between the Coris and Purires rivers. This event is considered the beginning of the colony and settlement which became the capital of the province in the early 19th Century.
At the end of the 17th century through the beginning of the 19th, the city had some 40 blocks and streets that had begun to be paved with stone.
In 1635, the Virgin of the Angels was discovered and September 23 was declared a day to pay respect to the States’ official patron saint.
In 1835, after a military conflict, the capital was moved from Cartago to San Jose.
The city of Cartago has suffered the consequences of many powerful earthquakes including the ones in 1841 and 1910 which destroyed the city completely. After the last one, adobe materials and wattle and daub which had been used for construction were abolished which encouraged more substantial homes of wood and sheet metal.
This monument was unveiled on July 31, 2010. The statue is carved from marble and was sculpted by Chinese artisans. The monument measures 20 ft. tall and the sculpture itself 8 ft. tall.
It is located at a strategic point that is visible by visitors upon entering Cartago, where the Virgin of the Angels, Costa Rica’s patron saint, National Sanctuary is located. The image of the virgin was a gift to the city from the Calvo Solano family.
The Cartago´s General Cemetery was established by a Royal Order on November 6, 1813, which stated that cemeteries were to be located outside the city. After the struggle between the State and the Church as to who would manage the cemetery, on July 19, 1984, the Secularization of Cemeteries law was passed.
There are many marble and stone sculptures as well as artistically beautiful mausoleums. The cemetery was declared a historical heritage site in 1991.
This church was originally the chapel for the orphanage and the Salesian School.
After the earthquake in 1910, the hospice collapsed and the chapel was restored and is the structure seen today.
The interior is a series of esthetic and architectural decorative elements and is one of the few examples of neo-gothic architecture that is preserved in the province of Cartago.
During 2010, the external parts of the church were renovated including the facade, the bell tower, the pinnacles and lateral walls.
The structure was also painted red, which was determined to have been the original color of the temple after a serious inspection of the walls. They were repaired using traditional wattle and daub technique, which had been used in construction in Cartago before the earthquake. It was declared an Architectural National Heritage in 1999.
The Amphitheater is located in the Independence Memorial Plaza next to the Maria Auxiliadora Church. It has a capacity for 400 people, which have soft, padded seats and three balconies with wheel chair access.
Here, residents and visitors enjoy theater, dance, music and expositions, among other cultural events. The Amphitheater is designed to blend in with the surrounding environment along with the Maria Auxiliadora Church, Independence Plaza and the Municipal Theater.
This was the home of the Pirie family, who emigrated from England. Later it was then converted into the Pirie Pharmacy and later used for various governmental institutions. Currently, it acts as the Casa de la Ciudad (City Home) for the Costa Rica Technological Institute for various artistic groups.
This emblematic building, designed in French neoclassical style, is one of the few structures that survived the earthquake in 1910 and was declared a historical cultural heritage site in 1986.
Before being destroyed by the earthquake of 1910, it was the San Nicolas Tolentino Church. It currently serves as the Apostle
The current design is Art Deco. Its construction began in the 1950s and its interior houses 24 religious murals, created by the Italian painter Jose Claro. The murals illustrate significant biblical events.
This structure built in 1924 in neo-gothic style, served as the Cartago Agricultural Credit Bank (Banco Credito Agricola de Cartago), and was later converted to the Mario Sancho Public Library.
Here visitors can participate in various artistic activities including cultural recitals, painting, drawing and sculpture exhibitions, among others.
This structure was declared Costa Rica´s Historical Architectural Heritage in 2000.
The current building is constructed in neoclassical style and was designed to serve as a meeting place for the social elite in the province, such as presidents and other important figures. It serves as home to the Cartago Rotary Club and Garden Club.
Since the colonial period, this building served as the office for government officials in Cartago and Costa Rica until 1823 when the so-called "Battle of Ochomogo" took place and the capital was moved to San Jose. The Independence Act was signed and sealed here on October 29, 1821. There is a plaque commemorating the event on the outside of the building.
The new, modern building was inaugurated in 1958. It currently serves as the local governmental administrative offices.
Cartago Plaza Mayor was the first plaza laid out by the Spaniards in the Central Valley during the conquest and now exudes its more than 400 years of history.
After 1821, the name Plaza Mayor was changed to Plaza Principal and later Central Park. Currently, it is called by its original name, Plaza Mayor, and was declared a Cultural Heritage site in April 2007.
Ruins of the Church of Santiago the Apostle
The Apostle Santiago Church was founded between 1577 and 1580 by the Franciscans and is located on the east side of Plaza Mayor. Over time, the church went through several reconstructions and renovations. The current structure was built from plans by the German architect Francisco Kurtze developed in 1862. Construction began in 1870 but was delayed due to lack of resources. The earthquake of 1910 prevented its completion.
The Romanic design is the only example of this type of architecture in Costa Rica. In the portico is the Liberty Bell which announced Costa Rica’s independence in 1821. It was declared a cultural heritage site in 1982.
This was the home of the illustrious ex-president Jesus Jimenez Zamora. After his death in 1897, the site was transformed into a school carrying the name “Jesus Jimenez” in his honor.
The building was reconstructed after the earthquake in 1910; the second stage of the building was finished around 1936.
San Luis Gonzaga School was founded in 1842 and became the first higher learning institution in Costa Rica. Construction of the current, neoclassical style building was completed in 1928 and inaugurated in 1930.
The Ascension Esquivel Ibarra School opened in 1902. After the earthquake of 1910, the structure suffered severe damage and was torn down. It wasn’t until 1934 that the current structure was inaugurated. It was declared a historic architectural heritage site in 1990.
When in 1878 the Capuchin Order arrived in Costa Rica, they built the first convent in the area. After the 1910 earthquake, the severely damaged structure had to be demolished. The construction of the current convent began in 1961 salvaged altars and stained glass windows from the earlier building. Currently, it is home to the Franciscan Order.
This work, sculpted in fiberglass by the artist Max Ulloa, is located in the gardens of the Franciscan Priest Convent and it conveys the love and brotherhood of the saint toward Mother Nature. It measures 7 ft. tall.
This is the birthplace of the former president Jesus Jimenez Zamora. Its importance stems from distinguished countryman Jimenez having had established the Free and Obligatory Education of Costa Rica. The house was declared historic architectural heritage site in May of 1985.
This facility was constructed around 1920 and was acquired by the government of Costa Rica in 1945. It is currently home to the regional offices of the National Child Care Services (PANI in Spanish).
In 2003, it was declared a historic architectural heritage site in Costa Rica.
The founder of this school was Father Jose Francisco de Peralta Lopez, who was born in Cartago in 1788. He died in 1844, leaving in his will resources and land for the foundation of a school, which was constructed in 1845. After the earthquake in 1910, the current school building was built in neoclassical style and was declared a historic architectural heritage site in 2003.
Between 1575 and 1886, Plaza Mayor was the site for commercial trade in Cartago. Then, in 1886, the English Construction & Co. constructed a building for the market.
The 1910, the Santa Monica earthquake destroyed the building and the same company constructed the current building.
This structure was built at the beginning of the 20th century and served as home to the Atlantic Railroad Station.
It was declared a historic architectural heritage site in 1997, has been recently remodeled and restored by the City of Cartago and now is an art gallery.
This site survived the 1910 earthquake and represents an important urban space in the daily lives of everyone from Cartago. Inside, visitors can find the monument to Jesus Jimenez Zamora.
In 2009 the City of Cartago restored the park and installed kiosks where traditional flowers are sold which are beautiful symbols of the city.
Zamora was born in Cartago and completed his higher education studies in Guatemala with a degree in medicine. As president of Costa Rica (1863-66), he pushed for public education and a route to the Caribbean.
He incorporated in the country’s constitution free and obligatory education, establishing an elementary school in each of the main towns.
There is a canton and a school with his name.
This building was constructed during the Ricardo Jimenez administration (1910-1914) under the direction of the architect, Luis Lach. It played an important role during the 1948 revolution and, over time, was home for security forces and the public police force. It was declared a significant historical heritage site in 1984.
In April, 2010, after a complete renovation led by the City of Cartago, the building was established as the Cartago City Museum, in response to the city’s concern for preserving its historical, social and architectural heritage; as well as to understand the history, culture and natural value of Cartago.
This Basilica was constructed in honor of the apparition of the Virgin of the Angeles in 1635 who is the patron saint of Costa Rica. The stone statue is located in this church. The first building (chapel) was erected in 1639 and was later expanded, rebuilt and renovated.
The current building is in Byzantine style and was constructed between 1912 and 1930 and designed by the architect Luis Llach. The facades were designed by the engineer Fabio Garnier. It was declared a historic architectural heritage site of Costa Rica in 1999. Our Lady of the Angels Basilica is a first-rate National Sanctuary. Hundreds of thousands of Costa Ricans make the pilgrimage to this site to profess their faith. It is one of the most important religious events in Costa Rica.
Martinez was a priest and bishop dedicated to caring for his flock. In Rome he obtained a Doctors’ Degree from Cannon Law and in 1921 he was ordained as a priest. In 1938, he became the bishop of the Alajuela Diocese, and in 1940 was named Archbishop of San Jose.
He was an eminent researcher of the Ecclesiastical History of the Church and left behind many writings and publications. He defended the most important sectors of the country and workers’ rights. He helped form the social laws of 1943 and the Workers’ Rights Code.
By the year 1635, during the colonial period, there was a neighborhood called Pueblo de los Pardos. This area was separate from the city of Cartago since it was home to many mulattos. It was a custom throughout almost all Spanish-America to separate the mulattos from the white people.
In order to maintain control over the separation, the Cross at Caravaca was put up as a boundary line. The monument is currently located on its original site.
This is a historic and cultural relic, perhaps the oldest church in Costa Rica and is located in Quircot, San Nicolas, northeast of Cartago.
The church was built in the second half of the 19th century and its architectural style is representative of the Franciscan religious order. The site has furniture and images that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
The International Horse Parade in San Jose, has been declared a “Cultural Interest” event by the Culture Ministry is held in every year in April. Associations and professional horse riders offer visitors the opportunity to see different breeds of horses. It also demonstrates its traditions since participants can see typical, indigenous clothing worn.