Cartago Tourist Attractions
Founded in 1563, this city is the capital of the Cartago province. Cartago was Costa Rica's national capital for 300 years until 1823.
The city lies 1,435m/4,707ft above sea level in the valley between the Cordillera Central and the Cordillera de Talamanca.Cartago is thought to be the birthplace of Costa Rican culture, however unfortunate earthquakes in 1823 and 1910 destroyed most of the historic buildings. Today, Cartago is Costa Rica's third-largest urban area with a population of 120,000.The Spanish settled in Cartago when moving inland to escape English pirates who were raiding the tropical coast. Their Meskito allies, who were escaped slaves intermarried with local Natives, accompanied the Spanish. Cartago's early conditions were very tenuous.Cartago became known as a "Moving City", as time and again the settlers were forced to load the town onto their backs and resettle in a new location in order to escape erupting volcanoes. By the 18th C the city had settled in its present location.
Our Lady of the Angels Basilica
This church is the most famous in the Central Valley, if not all of Costa Rica. An imposing structure, the church was rebuilt in the Byzantine style after being destroyed in the 1926 earthquake. The focal point of the church is a statue of the Virgin known as La Negrita, and the Virgin associated with the statue is the patron saint of Costa Rica.It is believed that the statue was discovered at the site where the church now stands on August 2, 1635, and reappeared miraculously in the same spot after being removed. The shrine of worship was built on the spot where the statue appeared, and today La Negrita is considered a pilgrimage destination. Each year on August 2, thousands of ticos and Central Americans make the pilgrimage to the statue, which is a major Costa Rican event.The pilgrimage takes the form of a foot procession from San José, 22km/14mi away. La Negrita is attributed with miraculous healing powers. Many gifts and offerings from healed pilgrims surround the statue, which are mostly metal or gold models of human body parts that have been healed by the miracles of La Negrita.
These ruins are of an uncompleted church that was destroyed in the 1910 earthquake. A garden is now found inside of the remaining solid walls. Las Ruinas is a major landmark in downtown Cartago and a good place to watch the comings and goings of locals.