Inmaculada Concepcion church, Heredia
Inmaculada Concepcion church, Heredia

You may not know this about tree frogs, but we're very smart! I love learning about history, and since I live in Costa Rica there is plenty to explore. One of my favorite places to learn about the past is Heredia. Both a province and a city, Heredia it steeped in rich culture. The city itself dates back to 1705. Nicknamed the “City of Flowers,” Heredia is home to a wonderful array of flora and fauna, and there are several vibrant gardens throughout town. But the real beauty here lies in the historical monuments and unmatched colonial architecture.

Heredia is not too far from San Jose, so travelers staying in Costa Rica all inclusive resorts in this metropolis are just a short trip  from the quiet getaway of Heredia. In about 15 minutes via car or bus, you can be in Heredia City. If you're going to stay in Heredia, simply fly into the San Jose Costa Rica airport and cruise the scenic landscape to this vibrant city.

Heredia Central Park
Heredia Central Park

Parque Central

Taking a stroll through Parque Central, or Central Park, is the ideal way to spend your afternoon. The weather is pristine most of the time in Heredia, and the streets surrounding the park are lined 18th with century buildings.

La Inmaculada Concepcion

The Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepcion sits across from Parque Central, and was built in 1797. You may hear locals referring to this spot simply as La Inmaculada. The large, white colonial-style church is a centerpiece in the community. The neoclassical Spanish exterior is the highlight of the building, although there are also 20 stained glass windows made in France that serve as beautiful accessories. There are also bells donning the structure that originated in Peru.

Originally, a wooden building was constructed in the same spot as early as 1704, but it was torn down and a towering adobe structure was its replacement. Although the church began construction in 1797, it wasn't actually completed until about 1806. Like several other buildings in Costa Rica, an earthquake damaged the structure and the facade was almost entirely re-built.

Heredia main plaza with El Fortin
Heredia main plaza with El Fortin

La Casa de la Cultura

A low-lying 18th century Spanish structure contains Casa de la Cultura (House of Culture), which once served as the home of President Alfredo Gonzalez Flores who was the governor between 1913 and 1917. This building sits in Parque Central and holds exhibits that document the region's history and a plethora of art work. I've hopped my way through this museum before, and it's a great spot for any traveler who is hoping to dive deep into the rich history here. More than 200 years of history can be found within the walls of the House of Culture

The old "Casona"

The old House of Culture sits at the north end of the park, and was built by Spanish settlers around 1792, led by Pedro Antonio Solares. He was a very wealthy man, and because of this he was able to travel around the world and bring back many artifacts. Most of the things he brought back were from Europe, but this turned his home into the most beloved one in the region.

Church in Barva
Church in Barva

El Fortin

El Fortin de Heredia is the symbol of the city, and it's no surprise! This towering monument is very unique. As a frog, I am lucky enough to crawl and hop through the intricate crevices up to the top. It isn't too high, but it is just high enough to see the town. It was built as a military hub where soldiers could stand as a lookout.

During the administration of President Tomas Guardia Gutierrez in 1876, Fredric Gutierrez designed this attraction that was declared a National Monument in 1974. El Fortin is divided into three parts. At its base it is quadrangular with three doors to enter through, although the south door has been closed. This structure was made from raw stone, clay and lime, as well as brick - brick was only used to shape the small pockets, which are alleged to have been sniper windows.

Today, this structure is a symbol of military dictatorships although Costa Rica no longer has fighting forces. Unfortunately, this structure is very fragile and it is not open to the public to go inside. But the facade is surely a sight to see.

Old Casona in Heredia
Old Casona in Heredia

Town of Barva

The town of Barva is a national historic monument, and is just a one hour drive from the city of Heredia. Following a winding road, and you'll find yourself in a 16th century town that boasts a rich colonial atmosphere. Old pueblo structures and red-tiled adobe line the streets that spread out around the central square of the town. There are also many historical monuments within this town, including the 18th century Basilica da Barva, which is very well-preserved considering its age.

El Fortin in Heredia Park
El Fortin in Heredia Park