Strikingly beautiful with a mild and dry climate all year round, it is no wonder that Costa Rica’s Central Valley is where over two-thirds or 70% of the population resides. Located just south of San Jose Metro Area, the Central Valley or Meseta Central covers a large portion of the interior of Costa Rica. Lush and green with many plantations, farming is one of the main occupations here, as the soil in the area is very fertile and rich in minerals from the presence of the two active volcanoes namely; volcan Irazu and Volcan Poas.
Ruins of Ujarras circa 1693
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More than just a visually stunning area, Costa Rica’s Central Valley has a lot to offer in terms of arts and culture as well. In this region you can find the oldest church still in use in the country, the Iglesia de San Jose Orosi which was built in 1734 in Orosi. Another famous town of this region is Cartago, considered to be among the oldest towns in the country founded in 1563. One of the finest cities in Central America till its destruction in 1732 by the eruption of the Irazu Volcano, Cartago is also an important pilgrimage site as it is home to the La Negrita, or ‘The Black Virgin’.
Easily accessible from San Jose City, many tourists visit the Central Valley on day trips to see two to the most popular attractions here, the Poas Volcano and the Irazu Volcano. Both situated inside national parks of the same name, these towering volcanoes have played an important part in this region’s history.
One of the oldest and best known national parks in Costa Rica, the Parque Nacional Volcán Poás is home to the Poas Volcano. The most active volcano in the country, there have been periods in the past where the Poas has been more active than it is now, the last time being in the 1950’s. Though its crater bubbles and steams on a regular basis, it does not pose any treat of eruption at the moment. There is also an observatory in the park from where visitors can view its bubbly crater, making visiting this volcano worth the trip.
Last erupting on March 19, 1963 when US President John F. Kennedy visited the country, the Volcan Irazu is the largest and highest active volcano in Costa Rica. From the summit of this volcano you can see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea on a clear day. In one of its craters there is visitors’ center, while there is also a short trail that leads to the rim of volcano’s two active craters.