Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cartago Costa Rica and the Terramall

Still in search of a "real" pet store in Costa Rica, my boyfriend suggested that we make the 1.5 hour drive from Miramar where we live, to the town of Cartago Costa Rica.  Our destination was Ruff's pet shop inside of the Terramall.  Terramall is, as the name implies, a mall which was built two years ago with the aim of mixing shopping with entertainment. While our destination this day was the pet shop, we decided to take a short drive around the town of Cartago Costa Rica first, in order to visit its top two tourist attractions:  1)The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, and 2) the ruins of Iglesia de la Parroquia (called "Las Ruinas" for short).

The town of Cartago Costa Rica lies 21 km southeast of San Jose (Costa Rica's capital city).  It was founded in 1563 by Juan Vasquez de Coronado as Costa Rica's first city, and it served as the capital of Costa Rica for almost 300 years before losing its place in violent squabbles to neighboring San Jose.

My boyfriend says the Cartago area is the land of rich and established coffee and potato farmers.  The town itself seemed pretty unassuming to me, but I did enjoy visiting the beautiful Cathedral, which is about 10 blocks away from the town's main plaza (pic below).  This Cathedral is home to Costa Rica's patron saint known as "La Negrita" (the famous black Madonna).  There is a crypt below the church that is worth a stop if you enjoy that kind of thing.

The other main tourist site in Cartago Costa Rica is "Las Ruinas" (pic below), in the town's central square (a.k.a. Plaza Mayor).  It is the ruins of the Iglesia de la Parroquia.  The seemingly cursed church was destroyed some five times by earthquakes.  Today, only its outer walls remain. If the gates are open, be sure to take a stroll inside of the ruins.  There is a nicely kept garden which makes for a lovely place of contemplation.

Twighlight was approaching as we were driving around the town, so we decided to head towards our final stop in Cartago Costa Rica - the Terramall.  Unfortunately, our earlier explorations caused us to arrive a little too late to the mall, and the pet store had already closed.  We did, however, have dinner in Terramall's large food court, and then we proceeded to take in a movie  at the mall's Cinepolis (to see Kung Fu Panda II).  The lines at the theatre were LONG, and there were too many teenagers there for my tastes.  I much prefer the movie theatre at the Multiplaza in Escazu.

Terramall itself offered many familiar stores names including Payless Shoes, Hallmark, and Tommy Hilfiger.  The one store that seemed inappropriately named to me was Rape, featuring women's clothing - of course, it doesn't mean the same thing in Spanish, but it still didn't seem fitting.  I absolutely enjoyed the outdoor dining section of Terramall known as "the Vereda".  It was an upscale outdoor courtyard area with bars and restaurants.  Had I known about it before eating at the indoor food court, I would have much rather have eaten there.

All in all, I enjoyed our visit to the town of Cartago and the Terramall.  But I would only recommend a brief stop in the area if your travels in Costa Rica already take you in that direction (for instance,  if you are visiting Volcan Irazu).

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Cartago Costa Rica

Plaza Mayor (Cartago's main plaza) with "Las Ruinas" in the background

A closer look at "Las Ruinas" in Cartago Costa Rica

Cartago Costa Rica at twilight

Outside the front entrance of Cartago Costa Rica's Terramall

Inside Cartago's Terramall

To Learn More About This and Other Costa Rica Tourist Sites:

Frommer's Costa Rica 2011 (Frommer's Color Complete)

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