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International > The picture of the week > Cultural attractions in Costa Rica

Picture of the week (No.36): Cultural attractions in Costa Rica.                                      ShareShare

Periodically (previously every week), Willgoto selects here a nice picture. In this series, we previously presented pictures of natural attractions of Costa Rica, in particular the sloth and other animals encountered in the many national parks that make up the country's tourist wealth. This time, the cultural attractions of Costa Rica and, in particular, those of its capital, San José, caught our attention. They are the theme of the thirty-sixth image in this series.

Pre-Columbian Gold Museum in San José
Gold statuette from the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum in San José, Costa Rica.

The country. Located in Central America between Nicaragua and Panama, Costa Rica is known to the general public for its exports of bananas, pineapples, coffee and fruit concentrates to North America and Europe. Costa Rica distinguished itself in 1949 by being the first country on the planet to give up maintaining an army. The country benefits from a particularly rich biodiversity, which is its main tourist asset. Its 161 protected areas, including 25 national parks, cover a quarter of its territory. For vacationers, Costa Rica also offers beautiful beaches, mainly on the Pacific coast, and several renowned surf spots. As for the country's cultural attractions, they are concentrated in San José.

San José is the capital and the most important city of Costa Rica. It is also the economic and cultural center of the country. It is often the first destination that foreign visitors discover when they visit Costa Rica. The city is home to several historic buildings such as the National Theater, the Metropolitan Cathedral, or the Temple of Music (a bandstand) in Morazán Park.

Another remarkable building in San José is the metallic school (Escuela Metálica) located in front of Morazán Park. It is a pretty neo-classical iron building which originally served as a school for young girls and which today houses the Escuela Buenaventura Corrales mixed school. It was designed by Belgian architect Charles Thirion and manufactured in Belgium by the Forges d'Aiseau, then, after being transported by boat, it was assembled in San José in 1896. It was restored in 2011. In 1980, it has been declared a work of national architectural and historical interest. It is indeed a remarkable example of the country's long-standing significant investment in public education. It was the first metal building in Central America. The choice of iron, inspired by the industrial revolution of the 19th century, is also explained by the damage that the earthquake of December 1888 had caused to the buildings of the city.

Tourism. In San José, tourists have the opportunity to visit interesting museums, in particular the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum which, along with the Gold Museum in Bogota, forms the most important museums dedicated to pre-Columbian gold artifacts in the world. The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum of San José houses no less than 1600 gold objects representing, among others, deities, shamans, jewelry, gold disks, animals, and many others. These works of art served mainly as attributes of prominent figures (for example, healers), funeral offerings or trade goods. The oldest objects date from 300 AD and come from different regions of Costa Rica. Those later than 1000 AD mainly were discovered in the south-east of the country.

The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum of San José is located in Plaza de la Cultura. It is managed by the Central Bank of Costa Rica, as that of Bogota depends on the central bank of Colombia. The same building houses the Numismatic Museum.

In Plaza de la Democracia, a short walk from the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, you find another cultural attraction in Costa Rica: the Jade Museum (Museo del Jade y de la Cultura Precolombina) which houses the largest collection of pre-Columbian jade in the world as well as numerous archaeological objects, notably ceramic.

Other major museums in San José include the National Museum of Costa Rica located in the former Bellavista Fortress, in Plaza de la Democracia (opposite the Jade Museum), the Children's Museum housed, along with other cultural institutions, at the Costa Rican Center of Science and Culture, the Museum of Costa Rican Art which is located in La Sabana Metropolitan Park and the La Salle Museum of Natural Sciences situated near this same park.

You may want also to see these beautiful pictures (provisionally in French) from Costa Rica:

San José

Manuel Antonio national park

Rincon de la Vieja national park

Ara Macao

How to get there
. Most foreign visitors go to Costa Rica via Juan Santamaría Airport, located 17 km from downtown San José. Charter flights most often arrive at the second airport serving San José, Tobías-Bolaños International Airport, which is situated also just a few kilometers from the city.

The author of the pictures. The above pictures belong to Willgoto.

See also
Picture of the week 1: Bee hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world. It is endemic to Cuba.
Picture of the week 2: Pagoda of the Golden Rock in Myanmar. It is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the world.
Picture of the week 3: Seychelles beach. Seychelles is a perfect destination for a dream holiday.
Picture of the week 4: Lemur of Madagascar (Coquerel's sifaka), an endangered species of primates, which, like all other species of lemurs, is endemic to Madagascar.
Picture of the week 5: World heritage in Cambodia. The temple of Banteay Srei, better known as 'Citadel of the women', in Cambodia is a jewel of Khmer art and a world heritage site.
Picture of the week 6: Bull shark and tiger shark. Both sharks are unfortunately known for fatal attacks on humans. However, experienced divers can approach them and swim with them.
Picture of the week 7: Firewalking in Mauritius. Walking barefoot over a bed of hot embers is an ancestral religious practice.

And many more pictures of the week including:
Picture of the week 27: Outdoor activities in Reunion Island, France. Reunion island is indeed an ideal destination for leisure and outdoor activities.
Picture of the week 28: Beach of Zanzibar. Zanzibar is a dream destination for sunny beach holidays particularly after a long safari in East Africa.
Picture of the week 29: Fauna of Costa Rica. Costa Rica is an ideal destination for all enthusiasts of wildlife.
Picture of the week 30: The red crab of Christmas Island (Australia). The annual migration of Christmas Island red crabs is the main tourist attraction of the island.
Picture of the week 31: Cultural attractions of Bangkok (Thailand). Wat Pho - the Temple of the Reclining Buddha - is one of the most popular cultural attractions of the Thai capital.
Picture of the week 32: Tourist attractions of Belgium. The Atomium is remarkable building which, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, has become the emblem of the city.
Picture of the week 33: Tourist attractions of Luang Prabang (Laos). The famous Wat Xieng Thong is representative of the religious architectural style of Luang Prabang.
Picture of the week 34: The tourist attractions of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Ho Chi Minh City and its Chinatown quarter, Cholon, are home to many tourist attractions.
Picture of the week 35: Mangroves in Mexico. Mangroves are particularly valuable ecosystems for humans and for wildlife.

See all our "Pictures of the week".

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Famous for its national parks and other nature reserves, Costa Rica also offers travelers cultural attractions, such as the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, which are worth a visit.