There are two old cemeteries in Barrio San Bosco on the south side of Avenida 10. Cemeterio General, Calles 22-28, contains mausoleums and graves with sculptures of many Costa Rican artists, writers, politicians and coffee barons. Foreigners’ Cemetery, Calles 18-20, has railway workers and immigrants from Europe, North America and Arabia dating back to the mid-1800’s.
This park is next to the National Assembly, a modern but an unassuming building. It is the largest of the city's central parks. The park features a statute honoring the struggle against William Walker, an American Southern Confederate, who tried to establish an empire in Central America during the War of 1856.
Built in 1887, Fuerte Bellevista, Fort with a Beautiful View, is now the National Museum. The museum has four sections: archaeological artifacts, gold figures and jewelry, colonial life artifacts, historic photos and implements. Bellevista fortress itself has historical significance in itself, once being the headquarters for the military and still pocked by bullet holes from the 1948 civil war. Open 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (Closed Monday). Medium admission.
Built in 1909 and features stained glass from Switzerland. Seems to sit on a busy roundabout where buses continually drop off and pick up passengers. We rested on the benches across the square from the church but saw no one enter or leave on this Christmas Eve afternoon.
I almost did not take a photo of this building. It looked to be a residence, a nice big residence, but nothing like an official government building. Then I noticed the big Costa Rican Flag in the lawn, so I thought maybe it was the residence of some government big shot--secretary of the treasury or something. Turns out that the building houses the legislative assembly.
The Assembly building was built in 1912 by a candidate for president--the guy lost and he was magnaminous enough to loan the residnce to the winner, President Flores. It was a private residence from the 1950s until 1989 when it was procured for the use of the legislative assembly.
This place in San José aims to show samples of the various diversity of plants and animals that you will find at any of Costa Rica's national parks. To achieve the goal, Inbio Park has been built on a huge extension of land to represent the different types of forests (pre-mountain, tropical humid, tropical dry or wetland), as well as a lake with real vegetation, insects and fishes where you can find 51 bird species, 583 native plant species, and other mammals and reptiles.
In Inbio Park you will also find a butterfly museum, reminding that of La Paz Waterfall Gardens (see my Off the Beaten Path tip about it). As its motto says, it's the "gateway to Costa Rica's National Parks".
The entrance fee was around US$12
The citiy’s main oldest park is fenced by palm trees and has a fountain, concrete benches and a central pavilion. Public concerts are offered on most Sunday mornings. Taxis queue up along the north, east and south sides of the park.
One of Costa Rica's superior parks is surrounded by stretch of mountain highway connecting San Jose and the coastal city of Limon. Thousands of trees cling to the park's volcanic slopes, providing a lush habitat to more than 500 types of birds and 135 kinds of mammals. Here, you can find the treasured quetzal, a bird of mythic and unsurpassed beauty. As you hike beneath the forest canopy, hundreds of species of butterflies waft past like colorful pixies. Howler monkeys sing and swing in the net of branches above. The ground vegetation hides pumas, ocelots, tapirs, raccoons, and countless other mammals which are often heard but seldom seen.
This was the best thing I did in San Jose. There is a place called the Jazz Cafe where local and foreign talent plays. The ambience is great, with interesting architecture and statues. The music went on until 1am, with incredibly talented, and humble, musicians. I was lucky to be sitting at a table with family friends of a few musicians, so throughout the night they would come have a drink, go play a song, come back, etc etc. Every seat is a good one, there is a full bar, and of course cafe food (pizza, etc).
Visitors to the National Museum get a double treat because the museum is housed in the former Army headquarters of Costa Rica, Fort Bellavista. Bellavista means "Beautiful View," and the view from the fort overlooking the city is beautiful indeed. My opening photographs for this San Jose page were taken from there.
As you approach the old fort you will notice that the sides are riddled with bullet holes, put there by those who wanted to overthrow the government during the revolution of 1948 and before. In front of the fort and in the courtyard you will see old cannons.
After the civil war, on December 1, 1948, President José Figueres Ferrer abolished the Costa Rican army. In a ceremony here at the Fort Bellavista, Figueres broke a wall with a mallet symbolizing the end of Costa Rica's military spirit.
The national budget previously used to support the military is now dedicated to security, education and culture; the country maintains Police Guard forces. Since 1986, Costa Rica has celebrated Día de la Abolición del Ejército (Military abolition day), every year on Dec. 15. Unlike its neighbors, Costa Rica has not endured a civil war and has been the most peaceful country in all of Central America for more than half a century.
On the east end of Avenida Central, across from the National Museum, are a couple of buildings that make up the legislative assembly for Costa Rica. The eastern most, Castillo Azul, Blue Castle, was built in 1911 by presidential candidate Maximo Fernandez. When he lost in 1914, he lent his home to President elect Alfredo Gonzalez Flores. If you see police barricades surrounding the building you probably shouldn’t tarry as this is usually an indication that a street demonstration is headed in your general direction.
Built in 1907, destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt in 1916, this mansion houses the Ministerio de Relaciones Extriores y Culto, Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry. In front is a huge La Ceiba tree that was planted in 1963 during Central America president’s summit (attended by President John F. Kennedy). The interior is also yellow with many mirrors and dark wooden furniture.
Costa Rica has legal gambling establishments, many of them in San Jose. None of them are very large or glamorous (compared to Las Vegas or even Atlantic City) but they do offer entertainment for those who like to wager. Most clubs only have 10–20 tables and 100-200 slot machines. The tables play Caribbean stud poker, mini baccarat, blackjack, canasta, roulette and craps. Only a couple of the casinos offer sports books or simulcast horse racing. A couple of the well known casinos like Club Colonial, Horseshoe, Del Rey and Morazon, are grouped together along Avenida 1 between Calle 7 y 11. For a bit more upscale atmosphere, consider the casinos at the Gran Hotel and the top of the Holiday Inn .
Gambling problem? Please contact Gamblers Anonymous ®.
After the destruction of many of San Jose’s building due to the 1888 earthquake, three experimental metal buildings were constructed in San Jose. This building, Edificio Metálico, was designed in France by Victor Baltard, architect of Les Halles. It was a pre-fabricated building manufactured out of iron in Amberes, Belgium, and shipped in pieces to Costa Rica. For many years, this was the biggest building in San Jose and has spent most of its time serving as a school.
Impossible to miss, the Gran Hotel is central to the downtown San Jose experience. With its own Plaza de Juan Mora Fernandez, the hotel offers a wonderful meeting point or rest stop. The plaza is great for people watching and should it rain you can retreat to the archways for cover. Try the café or restaurant or casino.
Very friendly an to other d helpful staff. The newer rooms are excellent. good value relative...more
I arrived at Hotel De Oro on December 28, 2008 at lunch with 3 other friends. We decided to have...more
We stayed at the Adventure Inn for one night in early September. It was the last day of our visit to...more