In the first half of the 16th century, Guanacaste was visited by Spanish explorers and conquerors from Nicaragua in order to explore and conquer the territory. Among them were Hernan Ponce de Leon, Gil Gonzalez Davila, Francisco Fernandez de Cordoba, Pedrarias Davila and Juan de Cavallon.
In a document dated from 1751, the name ¨El Guanacaste¨ appeared for the first time referring to the site which today is known as Liberia. It was an ideal location. Is was a meeting point between three densely populated regions. To the north was Nicaragua (Rivas, Granada, and Leon). To the south was the central Valley of Costa Rica (Cartago, Aserri, Barva, and Pacaca (Colon). And to the west was Nicoya. The name ¨Guanacaste¨ comes from the many Guanacaste trees that grew in the area.
On September 4, 1769, a chapel was built with the help of a parish in Guanacaste. Twenty-one years later (1790), a parish was established, naming Father Domingo Tome de Santelis, as its first priest. By 1815, Guanacaste (today Liberia) was home to some 1112 inhabitants.
By 1831, the population of Guanacaste received the title of ¨Town¨ and in 1836, thanks to its rapid growth and status, it received the title of ¨City.¨ In 1848, during a republican period and administrative political reform of the country, the Province of Guanacaste was established.
An interesting piece of history of the city is the construction of a fence made of aloe vera stalks (which later were replaced by barbed wire) with gates in order to protect the city from roaming livestock from nearby farms. This barricade was built in 1870 by Rudecindo Guardia, the governor of Guanacaste, and stood until 1956. The low, wooden, double gates were always closed. The people opened them only when passing through and then shut them in order to keep the livestock from entering the city. The roaming livestock posed two inconveniences. The first had to do with the mess they caused in the streets and the other problem was that the cows would lick the walls of the old adobe houses made of lime causing wear and damage.
By the beginning of the 20th century, there were four well-established districts in the city, which were: el Condega, La Victoria, Los Cerros and Los Angeles. The current central park was a simple plaza, centered around an enormous Guanacaste tree where livestock would come for shade and rest.
The historic residential architecture of the city, which still stands today, dates back to the middle of the 20thcentury and was constructed as residential housing made of adobe and bahareque with mud-tiled roofs. Its architectural style is clearly Colonial, originating from Nicaragua due to the fact that many housing constructors arrived from there. A central patio was common in many houses, which served to help organize internal spaces: the kitchen; bedrooms; and storage areas. A unique element of the Guanacasten architecture, which is not found in the center of the country, is the sun door with two doors separated by a column used for corner houses. The idea was to control and maximize sun light.
The cart and oxen were extremely important for the development of the coffee plantations, which came about in the 1820s. It became essential to develop an instrument to carry the coffee beans to the port of Puntarenas, which were then shipped to Europe. The ox cart driver required little training and typically traveled barefoot at night with a lamp. They used a staff made from citrus wood measuring 6 and a half feet long and almost one inch thick in order to guide the harness of the oxen. They frequently also used a type of whip with three braids that was flexible and serve to prompt the oxen. A sculpture was raised in homage to the Guanacasten ox cart driver Heriberto Rodriguez Chinchilla in 2000 outside the Hotel Boyeros. It was created by the artist Johnny Garcia Clachar. The sculpture shows the ox cart driver leading the cart and was constructed from cement, marble, and porcelain. It measures some 4 ft. in height and 25 ft. in length.
Located on 2nd Avenue, 16th Street.
The rise of the Guanacasten cowboy is linked to the development of the Guanacasten farmlands and is representative of the social and economic development of Guanacaste. All of the tasks related to this type of work made the Guanacasten cowboy a strong tough figure, capable of working long hours in the open plains or in the hills. The typical accessories were a packsaddle, chaps, machete, pestle, a horn, as well as his loud, strong voice used to direct the workers. The Guanacasten cowboy became the representative image of the region.
As part of the bicentennial celebrations of the founding of Liberia, the city decided to raise a statue in honor of this representational country figure. The artist, Nestor Zeledon Varela constructed a monument from artificial stone, measuring 5 ft. in height and 7 ft. in length on a pedestal measuring some 6 ft. in height. It was inaugurated in 1969. In 1995, the Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports, recognized the work of the Guancastan cowboy in the fields and declared the second Sunday of November as the Guanacasten Cowboy Day (Dia del Sabanero).
Located on 0 Avenue, 10th Street.
By 1880, Costa Rica was transforming into a country of parks. In the beginning of the 20th century, this idea spread to Liberia. The most important structure was a park gazebo created by the construction builder and lathe operator Ismael Umaña Rojas, who arrived from Alajuela. The structure was built in Victorian style with a wooden frame with ginger bread decoration, also made of wood. It has an octagonal shape measuring some 30 ft. in diameter, and a re-enforced concrete base measuring 3 ft. in height with a red and white mosaic floor and stairs on the east and west side. On February 14th, 1936, the Liberian military band performed the song ¨Luna Liberiana¨ by Jesus Bonilla Chavarria in the gazebo. In the 1940s, open-air concerts became a tradition in the park, performing three times a week. In the 1970s, a fountain was constructed in order to inaugurate the new aqueduct and sewer system. On January 30th, 1975, it was given the name Mario Cañas Ruiz, a fireworks maker, musician, and composer from the city. The gazebo was declared an architectural and historical heritage site on August 26, 2004.
Located on 0 and 1st Avenue, 0 and 2nd Street.
The structure is a simple bahareque style home with little ornamentation dating back to the middle of the 19th century. Its architectural design is unique in its high ceiling with thick walls in order to deal with the warm climate of the region. It has one floor with a front corridor with columns, guillotine-style windows, a sun door, and is well-lit. It was once the residence of Dr. Enrique Baltodano Briceño. Enrique Baltodano Briceño is considered a social benefactor who provided medical assistance regardless of social, economic, or political status. In honor of his memory, the city’s hospital was named after him.
Other homes of this type were: the Bejuco House, El Real House (the Baltodano family), the Asientillo House (the Mayorga family), the San Jeronimo House and the Naranjo House.
Located on 0 Avenue, 2nd Street.
In the 1920s, there was a church in very bad condition and needed to be demolished. Between 1928 and 1930, another one was built made of wood with its interior walls covered with metal sheets in high relief. Its portal was made from concrete block with carved images by Juan Chavarria, a skilled stonemason. The structure was very narrow and high. It was demolished in 1965, even though it wasn´t in bad condition. In 1966, during the tenure of the priest, Luis Alonso Machado Alas (of Salvadorian decent), a new church was built. It was a modern design by the architect Luis Guillermo Rojas Chavez, using prefabricated materials. Its three naves represent the trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. On December 8, 1972, it was blessed by the bishop of Tilaran, Roman Arrieta Villalobos. In the beginning of the 21st century, under the tenure of the priest, Oscar Valerio Vargas, a bell tower was installed.
Located on 0 and 1stAvenue, 1st Street.
This building dates back to around 1850 and was constructed by Indalecio Maleaño y Midence, a land owner from Rivas, Nicaragua, as his private residence. In 1865, he sold it to Guadalupe Marin Sandova and in 1895 it was acquired by the family of Jose Cabezas Bonilla, a businessman from the city, and Lupita Santos Aguirre. There was a wide-open sunny patio with palm and fruit trees. In 1910, during the Cleto Gonzalez Viquez government (1906-1910), it was purchased by the state in order to set up government offices and during the Jose Figueres Ferrer government (1970-1974) it was handed over to the City of Liberia. The building has a wooden frame and adobe walls. It formerly had a wooden balustrade, a tiled roof and wooden floors in the corridors. Today, the balustrade is made of concrete, the roof of galvanized steel, and the floors of the hallways are made of mosaic tiles. It was declared an architectural and historical heritage site on June 21, 1983.
Located on 0 Avenue, 0 Street.
The building that is now occupied by the Hotel Liberia was built in the beginning of the 20th century in bahareque with a tiled roof, central patio and a kitchen with a wood burning oven. Its first owner was Sofia Acuña de Guillen, who converted it into a lodging establishment. The inn had enough space to house the horses of the guests who were typically businessmen and women. The rooms were large with canvas beds for visitors. There was enough room for various guests at one time, who generally knew each other. Later, the hotel belonged to Secundino Fonseca and Eida Estrada Baldioceda, after them Rafael Hurtado Rivera and David Hurtado. Since 1960, it belonged to Angel Meza and currently belongs to his son, Warren Meza.
Located on 0 and 2nd Avenue, 0 Street.
At the beginning of the 20th century, this building was constructed to be used as commercial center. It has served in various functions as a cantina, store and storage warehouse for groceries, textiles, and grains, and now serves as a restaurant. It is believed to have been constructed by Rafael Hurtado Aguirre. In the 1940s, the business was rented by Antonio Acon Cosi and was later owned by David Hurtado (the son of Rafael Hurtado). However, 10 years later Acon returned to his town, Canton, China and sold his rights to his patent to Carlos Alon. It is said, through oral tradition, that the composer Jesus Bonilla created his famous piece ¨Luna Liberiana¨here. In the middle of the 20th century, La Copa de Oro was the busiest and most famous commercial corner in the city. Some time later, David Hurtado sold the property to Rafael Acon (Won) Chan, the nephew of Antonio Acon. Today, it belongs to their inheritors, Johnny, Jenny, and Edwin Won Ma.
Located on 2nd Street, 0 Street.
At the end of the 19th century, a house was constructed in bahareque that belonged to Francisco Mayorga and Ninfa Santos. The structure was constructed in the style representative of the architecture of Liberia at the time. It was known as the El Asientillo House.
However, today the building serves as five local businesses as well as a house. Mayorga was a politician who later became the governor of Liberia and a state congressman. Upon Mayorga´s death, the building remained in the hands of his sisters Susana and Celina and was leased while they were alive, since he had decided to donate it to the Liberia Board of Education. Francisco Mayorga handed over his property in order to build the Public Library, a gymnasium, a kindergarten and a technical school. The various buildings of the structure are connected by an interior corridor with a central patio. According to oral tradition, Augusto Cesar Sandino once visited Francisco Mayorga at this site.
Located on 2nd Avenue, 0 Street.
This bahareque and mason structure was constructed toward the end of the 19th century and has had many owners, among them were Lucia Mena, Antonio Ruiz Centeno, Angelica Alvarado Ruiz and Manuel Li. The most recent of these owners sold it in 1943 to Miguel Angel Zuñiga Rovira and his wife Emilia Clachar Hurtado. In the beginning of the 20th century, the home underwent remodeling which included carved wood molding for the frames of the windows and doors. The baseboard received a stone-edged plating. In the ceiling of the main room is a circular canvas painted with angels, doves and flowers created by the artist Moore. The design is neoclassical style. It was declared an architectural and historical heritage site on July 20, 1999.
Located on 2nd and 4th Avenue, 0 Street.
At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a milking facility here belonging to Baltasar Baldioceda, whose home occupied the land next to it (today the Espinar Reyes Home). In 1938, David Clachar Gonzalez and Maria Angelica Baldioceda (Leca) decided to construct a residence on the land. The bahareque architectural design was created by the engineer Max Effinger, who also supervised the construction of the military barracks, and was overseen by Santiago Gutierrez. Don Vico was known to be the first accountant to start the National Bank and traveled throughout all Guanacaste by horse as part of his trade.
For a while, the building was rented by Dietrich Alexander Beherens Clarenbac and his wife Swiss-German Ana Maria Meltzer. Upon the death of Don Vico, the house remained in the hands of his son Alvaro Clachar and his wife Ida Seravalli. Starting in February of 2007, the artist Karen Clachar has created a mural of documents and photographs that tell the history of important figures of the region.
Located on 4th Avenue, 0 Street.
This home dates back to the end of the 19th century when Baltasar Baldioceda ordered the construction of the structure to be used as a personal residence. It was constructed in bahareque by the construction builder Fausto Morales. Over time, in the 1950s, the home was handed down to his granddaughter Grace Baldioceda Bonilla, who decided to divide it into three homes. She lived in the central part and rented the other two. In 1980, Evelio Espinar Pascual and Magda Rivas Loaiciga bought the property and rejoined the three homes.
A renowned construction builder in the city Belisario Sotela oversaw the construction. The original spaces were restored and a marvelous wide-open room was designed in the middle of the open garden. It has wood floors in the bedrooms and beautiful geometrically-shaped mosaic floors in the halls.
Located on 4th and 6th Avenue, 0 Street.
This bahareque and wood house dates back to the 1830s with a tiled roof and a sun door. In the beginning of the 20th century, it belonged to a family under the name Gorgona and later was handed over to the City of Liberia. In the 1980s, it was registered in the Property Register under the Institute of Guanacaste, but an agreement was immediately signed with the Association for the Culture Ministry of Liberia in order to build a museum and Culture House. On September 8, 1990, the Guanacasten Cowboy museum was built in order to tell the story of this important field worker. Unfortunately, this museum is now closed. The property was declared an architectural and historical heritage site on April 3, 1989.
Located on 6th Avenue, 1st Street.
Toward the end of the 19th century, an enormous home was constructed in bahareque. In 1880, it belonged to Emilio Hurtado and Cecilia Hurtado, who had migrated from Nicaragua. In its initial stages, in the city of Liberia, each quadrant was divided into eight large areas. This building has conserved its original dimensions. On April 11, 1945, the Institute of Guanacaste was founded, being the only high school in the province. In the 1950s, the institution rented a large part of the building to house the education center. The property belonged to Manuel Rodriguez Caracas, a lawyer born in Rivas, Nicaragua, who composed the famous piece ¨He Guardado.¨ From the 1960s to the 1980s, it was also rented to the Rural Teacher Training School of Guanacaste and the National Advisory Board of Production. Today, the most important renter is the Tito´s Minimart.
Located on 2nd Avenue, 1st Street.
At the end of the 19th century, the city had an adobe structure that served as a school and was previously a hospital. In 1904, during the government of Ascension Esquivel Ibarra (1902-1906), land belonging to Paulino Dubon Ulloa was obtained to create an education center. The foreman was the Italian Francisco Rossino Bertoz, who constructed two floors with bahareque walls. According to the customs of the time, the school was initially separated in two parts: one for the boys, and one for the girls. In 1925, the director, Eduardo Arata, had a clock, which was imported from Germany, installed on the facade. During the Leon Cortes Castro administration (1936-1940), the school was remodeled and expanded based on the designs by the architect Jose Maria Barrantes Monge. It was declared an architectural and historical heritage site on June 4, 1990.
Located on 0 and 2nd Avenue, 1st Street.
Around 1868, an adobe residential house was constructed with columns and pochote wood posts. It has an internal corridor with a central patio. The first owners were Aristides Baltodano Briceño and his wife Belen Guillen Acuña. The Liberia Hospital (Enrique Baltodano Briceño) and the city stadium (Edgardo Baltodano Briceño) were named after his two brothers in honor of his merits. Until the beginning of the 1930s, it was a residential house. In the 1940s, it was the headquarters of the Health Unit. In the 1950s, a thread factory was installed (the first in the city), as well as a butter factory. In 1990, the thread factory closed. It is currently the Rustico Toro Negro Restaurant.
Located on 0 Avenue, 1st Street.
The house was built in Caribbean Victorian style, breaking with the typical construction in the city. It has a balcony and front corridor with ornately carved wood, highlighting the ironwood pieces.
Located on 0 Avenue, 5th Street.
Located on 0 Avenue, 5th Street.
According to oral tradition, this home was constructed between 1840 and 1845. In the first half of the 20th century, it belonged to Adela Villalobos but in 1938 it was sold to Maria Castrillo. Afterwards, it was handed down to her son, Rafael Castrillo and then to her granddaughter Esperanza Castrillo Rovira. For a long time, the home served as a place for business. The building has a traditional design, erected in adobe with a tiled roof and with lots of sunlight. There is no ceiling and because it is located on the corner it has a beveled edge. The floor was made of wood, but during the Castrillo period it was changed to a baked brick-cement mix.
In 1920, Juan Berger Villegas, a tailor by trade, and his wife, Victoria Castro Hernandez, acquired a large piece of land with fruit trees. In 1922, they hired Leandro Giron as the construction foreman in order to build a home with wooden posts, bahareque walls, a sun door and mud-tiled roof. The doors, windows, and floor were made of wood. One element that was re-introduced in the facade, typical of Guanacaste style, was the sun door. In 1960, the home was inherited by Lidieth Berger Garnier and her husband Johnny Alvarez.
Under their ownership, the home underwent a series of restorations and remodeling in order to highlight its esthetic and functional value, primarily in its interior. Years later, the roof was removed because of the risk of it collapsing due to its weight and was replaced with sheets of galvanized iron.
Located on 2nd Avenue, 5th Street.
Rodolfo Salazar Solorzano (1908-1982) was the son of Virgilio Salazar and Dulia Solorzano. He was a poet, writer, teacher, and politician in Liberia. He was known in the community as ¨Don Fito¨ (Mr. Fito). He graduated as a teacher in the Teacher Training School in Heredia. As a teacher he worked in Sardinal, Liberia and Filadelfia. In 1930, he married Luz Giron Garcia. In the 1940s, he undertook the role of School Inspector in Carrillo and Santa Cruz. In 1962, he was a professor in the Institute of Guanacaste. He was a great admirer of writers like Ruben Dario. He was also the governor of the Province of Liberia and public official for the Republican Party during the Teodoro Picado administration (1944-1948).
Located on 1st Avenue, 9th and 11th Streets.
Apparently, this house was constructed in 1906 and its first owners were the married couple Ramon Martinez and Maria Martinez from Nicaragua. With the passing of the couple, the house was handed down to Maximiliano Alvarado and Mercedes Salazar Martinez and later inherited by their daughter Luisa Adela Alvarado Salazar. Until 1992, it had always been rented to poor families. However, it was acquired by the Culture Association of the Sub-Region of Liberia in the same year, and vacant until its restoration in 2000. It has bahareque walls and a tiled roof. There are two internal spaces that connect. The facade faces south towards the La Agonia chapel forming a nice harmony.
Located on 0 Avenue, 11th Street.
Located on 0 Avenue, 9th Street.
At the end of the 19th century, this house was constructed from bahareque and wood. In the 1930s, it belonged to Luis Padilla who set up a barber shop. In the 1950s, it belonged to Rodolfo Salazar Solorzano and his wife Luz Giron Garcia. It was later inherited by his daughter, Zeneida Salazar Giron who was married to Jorge Diaz Leal and later handed down to their sons Francisco and Jorge Diaz Salazar. In 2008, the later sold the property and an adjacent property to Julio Leiva Muñoz. Its roof is tiled over sheets of galvanized steel, wood ceilings, a beautiful cement floor, and a corner sun door.
In 1850, the government granted to Baltasar Baldioceda Estrada, the governor of Liberia, the license to collect the necessary funds to build a chapel. There are two versions to the story about how the land was acquired. The first is that Baldioceda himself donated it himself, and the other is that it was purchased by Ocaria Centeno. The adobe construction began in 1854, but was interrupted by the National Campaign (1856-1857). It was finally finished in 1865. On January 6, 1866, the first mass was held here. The building is of adobe with a tiled roof and floor tiles made of mud. Its design reflects the Colonial and neoclassical style.
The portal displays baroque pillars, adjacent ionic columns, and Greek tapestries. The facade displays ciborium and a gothic rose window in the tympanum. The interior displays very little ceiling and has two rows of seven wood columns with a brick pedestal which brings together the central nave. The presbytery displays a wooden balustrade and an old baptismal basin. The bells and the image of Lord of Agony (brought over from Nicaragua) were donated by Baltasar Baldioceda. Since 1882, the chapel has been home to the traditional ¨La Pasada del Niño Dios¨ (The Carrying of the Christ Child) that is held every December 24. In 2006, the wooden pews, which were over 100 years old, were restored. The chapel has been converted into a religious art museum exhibiting sculptures, paintings, tapestries, and furniture from the 19th century. It was declared an architectural and historical heritage site on November
Located on 0 Avenue, 9th and 11th Street.
This bahareque home is believed to have been constructed in the 1920s by Ulpiano Sotela, a skilled construction foreman in the city. In 1930, it was acquired by the Rafael Rivera Baldioceda and Rafaela Rovira Ruiz family, and, lacking a few details, it was finally completed by its new owners. Currently it belongs to their daughter Susana Rivera Rovira, a retired drawing teacher. The home with a sun door originally lacked a ceiling and had dirt floors. Over time, a ceiling was installed and the floor was cemented. The walls display pochote wood posts, which served to re-enforce the structure.
Located on 1st Avenue, 9th Street.
In the beginning of the 1940s, Felix Arburola and his wife Pilar Carranza, built a house in bahareque style and was constructed by the skilled construction builder Ulpiano Sotela. This home, with its neoclassical element, is known by many as the ¨doll house¨ due to its Art Noveau style frame located in the upper part of the door and windows of the facade. The property was passed along to the Evangelista Estrada Rivas Argentina Barrantes Sibaja family. Since then, it has served as a restaurant, a dance studio, a gymnasium, and most recently, a protestant church.
Located on 1st and 3rd Avenue, 7th Street.
The first military barracks of the city was located where today stands the Banco de Costa Rica (Costa Rica Bank), but the conditions weren´t adequate. The construction of the new military barracks began during the Ricardo Jimenez Oreamuno administration (1932-1936) and was completed during the Leon Cortes Castro (1936-1940) administration. The Art Deco design of the fortress made of re-enforced concrete was the work of the architect Jose Maria Barrantes Monge and supervised by the engineer Max Effinger. It was inaugurated on January 20th, 1940 and is a walled fortress whose main entrance faces south. It displays wide corridors in a U shape covered with concrete tiles that lead to the towers installed on each corner. It also had sleeping quarters for the troops, a place for weapon storage, bathrooms, a commander´s room, offices, library, warehouse, incarceration area and central patio. It was declared an architectural and historical heritage site on December 17, 1998.
Located on 1st and 3rd Avenue, 2nd and 4th Street.
In 1935, the Liberia Public Library was founded under the supervision of Secundino Fonseca Obando. Over the years, the institution has had two different locations. In the beginning, one of the main reasons for its collection growth was due to a donation from Francisco Mayorga from his personal collection. On September 15, 1984, the current facilities were inaugurated thanks to the economic support from private and public sources, land donated by the Lions Club and the Board of Education of the City of Liberia. The building was constructed from concrete blocks based on the designs from the architect Guillermo Navarro Mairena.
Located on 3rd Avenue, 4th Street.
Francisco Mayorga (1862-1940) was born in San Marcos, Nicaragua. He was a teenager when he migrated to Liberia with his family. In San Jose, he graduated from law school. Politics was one of his greatest passions. In 1905, he created the Guanacaste Union political movement and later the Guanacaste Brotherhood. He held the position as Governor of Liberia from 1914 to 1917 and also from 1919 to 1920. He was elected as a congressman from 1920 to 1932. He promoted, wrote, and ruled on projects that benefitted the development of agriculture, livestock, industry, education and other public works. He helped establish the first electric plant in Liberia, set up the first candle, soap, and ice factory (in his home), as well as a coffee mill. He fought for women’s rights and founded the Liberia Public library by donating many books.
He was also declared Merited Son of Liberia. He donated his property to the city´s education board. A bust dedicated to his memory was erected in the public library´s garden in Liberia which is named after him. The sculpture was created in concrete by the artist Johnny Garcia Clachar and measures some two feet in height.
Located on 3rd Avenue, 4th Street.
Hector Zuñiga Rovira was born on June 7, 1913 in Liberia. In 1937, he graduated as an agricultural engineer. He was also a musician and composer of themes related to his birthplace in Guanacaste. Among some of his works are ¨Amor de temporada¨ and ¨El huellon de la carreta.¨ Therefore, on July 23, 1993, the City of Liberia bestowed on him the title of ¨Distinguished Son of Guanacaste.¨ The land was donated by Francisco Mayorga to the City of Liberia. In the center of the land, there is an enormous Guanacaste tree (enterolobium cyclocarpum), that is believed to be some 200 years old. The crown measures some 120 ft. wide with a trunk measuring 15 ft. in circumference.
Located on 1st and 3rd Avenue, 6th and 8th Street.