A city steeped in rich history and culture, Cartago City was the first capital of Costa Rica. Founded in 1563 by Juan Vasquez de Coronado, this city has the distinction of being the first Spanish settlement in the country. Capital of Costa Rica until 1823, one of the main reasons why San Jose was made the capital was because Cartago was situated close to the foot of the Volcan Irazu, which had nearly destroyed the entire city in 1723.
Ruins of the 1693 Iglesia de Nuestra Senora
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A visit to the Cartago region provides a flashback in time, with ruins dating back to the 16th century found here, reminding visitors of a time when pre-Columbian inhabitants farmed what was once the country’s breadbasket region. Most of the early farmers here were killed by the Spanish settlers, nevertheless by visiting places like the Monumento Nacional Guayabo, one gets the opportunity to take in this area’s amazing past.
A lush region that was once covered by forestation, much of the land here was cleared away by early colonial farmers. Cartago’s rural villages today are a sight to behold and are marked by old adobe houses and aged buildings with colorful wood. With a pleasant climate and wonderful environs.
Another reason why so many people visit Cartago is because located here, in the city’s largest church the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles, is the miraculous La Negrita or Black Madonna. This statue is known throughout the country for its healing powers, and many pilgrims visit the city annually on the feast day of the Virgin of the Angels i.e. August 2.
A naturally beautiful area, to the north of Cartago lies the fuming Irazu Volcano, while to the south sits the lovely Parque Nacional Chirripó. Visit this park to climb Central America’s highest peak, Cerro Chirripó that stands at a height of 12,529 feet. An ideal climb for aggressive hikers, trekking this mountain demands a lot of sweat and determination. Also don’t forget a pair of good hiking shoes and a warm sleeping bag will help you go a long way in getting to the top.
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San Jose Metro (w/ Airport Area)
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Click to enlarge map - Cartago Region Map
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