San Jose Tourist Attractions
Costa Rica's cosmopolitan national capital stands in the center of the Central Valley at an altitude of 1,150m/ 3,772ft, and the mountains create an attractive backdrop beyond the city.
When Costa Rica gained independence from Spain in 1823, the nation's capital was moved from Cartago to the more dynamic and expanding San José.San José was founded in 1737 but little remains from the colonial era. San José offers many interesting attractions, in particular several excellent museums, fine restaurants, good nightlife and an eternal spring-like climate. San José is the heart of Costa Rica, and nearly 30% of the country's population live in the city or the nearby suburbs that are home to approximately 900,000 people.San José is the hub of transportation in the country; all public transit and road systems radiate from the city. Hence, San José is a noisy bustling place, with traffics jams and congestion often the norm. Costa Ricans living in the city refer to themselves as 'josefinos' and are known for their friendliness and hospitality to visitors.
Costa Ricans take pride in the National Theater, which is considered to be the most impressive building in San José. In the 1890's, the ruling coffee barons voted for a tax on coffee exports in order to fund the construction of the theater, and European artisans were imported to design the building.Completed in 1897, the building features a classical Renaissance columned façade topped by statues symbolizing Dance, Music, and Fame. Inside, the pink marble foyer features allegorical figures of Comedy and Tragedy, and painted murals depicting themes in Costa Rican life.The most famous of the paintings is one showing coffee harvesting and export painted by Arturo Fontana in Milan in 1897. The mural highlights the three-story horseshoe-shaped auditorium that seats 1,040 people. There are regular performances in the theater, and a gallery featuring changing art shows by local artists.The theater's marble staircases, gilded ceilings, parquet floors, bronze chandeliers and gold-leaf mahogany furniture were damaged in a 1991 earthquake but have since been restored.
This spacious park features a lagoon and fountain and is a good place to picnic under shade trees. The park offers many sports facilities, including tennis courts, volleyball, baseball and basketball areas, jogging paths and an Olympic-size swimming pool. The national stadium where soccer games are held is also found in Parque La Sabana.
Turu Ba Ri Tropical Park (closed)
ATTRACTION IS CLOSED.Turu Ba Ri is a tropical park featuring an unspoiled 595 acres with forest trails and exclusive botanical collections. Over 300 species of wild plants, trees and wildflowers can be seen along the mountain trails. Within Turu Ba Ri, over 150 species of birds have made their homes. Adventure seekers can test their skills on the Tarzan Swing or 260 ft high climbing wall.
Surrounded by many important buildings, the National Park is pleasant and shady. The park features two statues of note; the first in the center of the park depicting the Central American nations driving out William Walker. The second statue is of national hero Juan Santamaría, found in the southwest corner of the park.
This bustling, crowded market offers a variety of fresh produce and goods such as leatherwork for sale. Several vendors can be found on the streets surrounding the Central Market.
Offering views of San José and the surrounding mountains, this plaza features a few interesting sculptures. The western end of the plaza features an open-air craft market with many goods for sale.
Many statues and monuments can be found here, including a dome-roofed structure called Templo de Música (Temple of Music) in the center of the park. A Japanese garden is found in the northeast area of the park.
Plaza of the Culture
Interesting buildings and museums are found in this plaza. Street vendors are often found wandering the western end of the plaza, and it is a good place to watch the comings and goings of Costa Ricans.
Simón Bolívar Zoological Park
This small national zoo features Asian, African, and Costa Rican animals. Many Costa Rican plants found within the Simón Bolivar park are labeled with species identifications.
Address: Avenida 11 and Calle 7, Costa Rica
Featuring some of the tallest trees in San José, several birdsongs can be heard in the park just before sunset. On Sundays there is a colorful art market held in the park.
Spirogyra Butterfly Garden
This butterfly garden offers a good introduction to the life cycle of butterflies and a close-up look of the species found in Costa Rica. A self-guided tour book is offered upon arrival. The calm, garden setting is an oasis in San José.
Juan Santamaría International Airport
This is Costa Rica's principal international airport, serving the entire country. Airlines often fly to Costa Rica via the United States.
San José Museums
This busy park is the place to catch many of the downtown buses.
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