Sarchi, Alajuela

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Neighboring Grecia, a few kilometers away is the quaint little town of Sarchi, known throughout Costa Rica for its beautiful and intricate arts and crafts and souvenirs. Lying some 30 km northwest of Alajuela city, in Alajuela province, the town of Sarchi is perhaps most widely recognized for its colorful and decorative oxcarts that have been made here for over a century.

Traditional Ox Carts

A key artisan town in Costa Rica, Sarchi is best known for the vibrant and pretty oxcarts that are handcrafted here and sold all over the country. Available for a reasonable price, these oxcarts are a must buy for any tourist. A national symbol of Costa Rica, the oxcart plays a key role in the country’s history, as they were used to transport coffee beans & other goods to nearby and faraway markets and ports. Starting in 1840’s most of the rural roads were very rough making the ox cart the sole means of transportation for families even though the trips could take weeks at times.

Highly ornate, these oxcarts are elegantly craved and are usually hand-painted with bright colors. The painting of the ox cart is a Costa Rican tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation. Today most of the ox carts in Costa Rica are used as ornate decoration as well as symbols of Costa Rica in celebrations and parades. The largest and oldest oxcart factory is also found in Sarchi. The Joaquin Chaverri Oxcart Factory was built in 1902, and is considered to be the birthplace of oxcart handicrafts in Costa Rica.

Best Souvenir Shopping

Also, widely found throughout town are dozens of wooden furniture and souvenir stores that sell everything from beautifully decorated bowls and trays to intricately carved wooden utensils, jewelry and masks. Elegant and stylish, a lot of wooden furniture is also available in Sarchi, from tables and chairs to dressers and desks. These items are usually meant for the local market, and often reflect Costa Rica’s diverse culture and traditions.

Besides the beautiful handicrafts, another reason to visit this charming town is for its unusual church that is painted pink and blue. Built in the 1950’s, this two-towered church sits on a hill overlooking the town.

What To Do In & Around Sarchi

Sarchi can be visited if you are going to the nearby Poas Volcano or the lovely Juan Castro National Park, both of which are over an hour’s drive away. A great way to see the beautiful and lush countryside is to drive out by yourself. However, remember to be cautious, as the long winding roads here are often very narrow and are not marked clearly.

Getting To Sarchi

Getting to Sarchi is easy it is on one of the main routes to the Central Pacific coast, just a short trip northwest of the capital San Jose, in the country’s breathtaking Central Valley. It is a great stop along the mountainous highway on the way to Puntarenas or the province of Guanacaste.
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