Friday, April 29, 2011

San Jose - The Costa Rica Capital

Costa Rica's capital, San Jose, is a busy, congested and noisy city.  Most tourists will probably only want to spend a day or two in the Costa Rica capital for that very reason.  The center of San Jose is dominated by hotels, offices, high-rises and shops.  There are some benefits to staying in San Jose, such as easier access to modern conveniences, magnificent surrounding mountain scenery, and cooler weather than in most other parts of the country.  However, if you've come to Costa Rica to see natural wonders, then the Costa Rica capital will not impress you.  I was driving and walking around some of the more popular parts of San Jose just yesterday, however, and did enjoy taking in some of its main sites.  There are a few notable buildings and plazas to be seen, and the Costa Rica capital is a great place for people-watching (30% of the Costa Rican population live in the vicinity San Jose. That's about 1.3 million people).

People and Sights on San Jose's Streets

Avenida 2,  A Main San Jose Thoroughfare

The Plaza de la Cultura is considered San Jose's unofficial focal point.  It's a great place to soak up the colorful atmosphere of the Costa Rica capital.  This is where you'll find the Museo del Oro Precolumbino (the world-class Pre-Columbian Gold Museum) and the famous Teatro Nacional (pictured below).

Teatro Nacional (National Theatre)
Across the street from the Plaza de la Cultura is Parque Central, which is San Jose's main plaza.  Here you will find a fountain, a bronze statue, hardwood sculptures, and a large domed structure where the municipal band plays concerts on Sunday.  On the east side of the park is the Catedral Metropolitana, a Corinthian-columned Metropolitan cathedral with a famous white statue paying homage to Pope John Paul II standing next to it (both pictured below).

Parque Central and Performance Dome

Catedral Metropolitano and White Statue of Pope John Paul II to the left of it
Finally, if you are in the Costa Rica capital of San Jose for a day or two, you'll probably enjoy a quick visit to the Mercado Central (the large central market). Watch out for pickpockets, but have fun exploring the stands and stalls in this fun and lively market area (pictured below).  Now leave the Costa Rica capital and move on to the rest of the country where you'll see the real beauty that is Costa Rica.

Inside the Mercado Central, San Jose, Costa Rica


Michel Méndez said...

I went to Tamarindos beach and the Tortugas island but they are beautiful, i loved how many national parks they have it´s awesome, i remember being in San José and really appreciate their round sculptures that are very common down there, near my hotel in San Jose was a small restaurant with some of the more rare and delicious food i´ve ever eat.

Mirna Gonzalez said...

Costa Rica is a great place to live, did you know that is ranked for being one of the happiest country in the world? The people there are very kind, and friendly, the food is awesome and the beaches are beautiful. I lived in San Jose a couple of years and i missed it.

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