Alajuela Tourist Attractions
Originally named Villa Hermosa, Alajuela was founded in 1782 and is the capital of Alajuela province. Costa Rica's second largest urban area, the city and immediate suburbs have a population of about 172,000.Built on a gently sloping hill, the elevation of the city ranges from 920m/3,018ft to 970m/3,812ft. While 18th C architecture has not survived in the city, the city enjoys an unhurried pace and warm climate.Alajuela is famous for being the birthplace of Juan Santamaría, the national hero of Costa Rica. In 1856, American William Walker marched through Nicaragua with the intent to conquer and enslave all of Central America in order to use the labor to build a canal across the isthmus.A small militia gathered in Costa Rica and forced Walker into a wooden fort that Santamaría, a teenaged drummer in the militia, volunteered to torch. While Walker was forced to flee Costa Rica, Santamaría lost his life in the fire. He is commemorated in Alajuela by a museum and park dedicated to his honor.
Juan Santamaría Museum
This museum commemorates Costa Rica's national hero, Juan Santamaría. He gave his life defending the country against a small army led by William Walker, a U.S. citizen who invaded Costa Rica with intentions of creating a slave state in 1856.The museum contains historical artifacts, paintings and maps pertaining to the war with Walker. Within the museum is a small auditorium where occasional performances are staged.
Central Park & Cathedral
Surrounded by 19th C buildings, Alajuela's Central Park is lined with mango trees. The Cathedral, also built in the 19th C, was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1991. Two Costa Rican presidents are buried here.