Vist the National Museum of Costa Rica

Share on Facebook
Tweet this page
Located in the capital city of San Jose, the Costa Rica National Museum sits directly across from the country's Legislative Assembly. The museum is situated in the Bellavista Fortress, which was built in 1917 and originally used as military barracks, specifically during the 1948 Costa Rica civil war. Tourists visiting the museum can still see hundreds of bullet holes in the walls.

But while the museum did not open in its current location until 1950, it was originally created on May 4, 1887 in the building of the Universidad de Santo Tomas, with the intention of providing the country with a public establishment to "deposit, classify and study natural and artistic products."

The Museo Nacional de Costa Rica was originally encouraged by the project of "order and progress," which reorganized the national culture through educational changes and the development of institutions with specific cultural and scientific purposes.

Scientific Investigation

Since its very first years, the Costa Rica National Museum has focused on scientific investigation, education, exhibition and defense of the country's natural and cultural heritage. Certain individuals who were instrumental during the museum's first years included zoologist Anastasio Alfaro, educator Pablo Biolley, author Adolfo Tonduz and ornithologist Jose Castulo Zeledon.

Precolumbian History

Inside the Costa Rica National Museum, tourists can find a wide variety of displays on the country's history and culture, from the pre-Columbian times all the way to the present.

Located in the pre-Columbian rooms, travelers will discover the lifestyle of ancient cultures from 12,000 years B.C. up to the Spanish arrival in 1500 A.D. Included in this display is a 2,500-year-old jade carving that is shaped like a seashell and etched with an image of a hand holding a small animal. Additionally, visitors can find a number of objects used for personal adornment and rituals, including arrow points, necklaces, pendants and earrings.

Likewise, visitors to the Costa Rica national Museum will have access to some of the most fascinating objects that have been unearthed at various archaeological sites, like the "metates", or grinding stones. Some of these metates are the size of a small bed, and are believed to have been used during funeral ceremonies.

Finally, in the museum's courtyard, tourists are treated to some of the most spectacular views of San Jose. A collection of some of Costa Rica's mysterious stone spheres can also be found in the courtyard.

When visiting the museum, plan on spending at least a few hours in order to fully experience the tremendous amount of historical artifacts on display in the building.