San Jose, Costa Rica Tours – San Jose, Costa Rica Vacation
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San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica, head of the province of San José, and the nation’s largest city. Located in the Central Valley, San José is the seat of national government, the focal point of political and economic activity, and the major transportation hub of this Central American nation. The population of San José Canton is 288,054, though the metropolitan area stretches beyond the canton limits and comprises a third of the country’s population.
Culturally, the city can be considered almost entirely European influenced, in part because of Spanish immigration soon after Costa Rica’s discovery by Christopher Columbus, and the privileged classes which generally studied in Europe during the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. This can be seen in the architecture of the city, namely theatres, museums and houses in the city centre. It is named in honor of Joseph of Nazareth.
Though few people live in the city center, it is the most important working area of the country, which brings in more than a million people daily. Despite its problems, according to studies in Latin America, San José is still one of the safest and least violent cities in the region. In 2006 the city was appointed Ibero-American Capital of Culture.
San José is the sixth most important destination in Latin America, according to The MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index 2012. San José ranked 15th in the world’s fastest growing destination cities by visitor cross-border spending.
Main City Landmarks
Theatres and Auditoriums
San José has many beautiful theatres, many with European-inspired architecture. These buildings serve as the city’s main tourist attractions; not only because of the architectural beauty, but because of the numerous cultural, musical, and artistic presentations and activities, which include traditional and modern Costa Rican and San José culture.
The most well-known are:
The National Theatre of Costa Rica (Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica).
The Melico Salazar Theatre (Teatro Popular Melico Salazar).
The National Auditorium of The Children’s Museum of Costa Rica (Museo de los Niños).
The National Theatre of Costa Rica and the Melico Salazar Theatre present drama, dance performances and concerts throughout the year. Nevertheless, other ‘smaller’ theatres can be found throughout the city and provide a large array of entertainment.
Teatro Variedades is San José’s oldest theatre.
San José is also host to various museums. These museums allow visitors to view Costa Rican history, scientific discoveries, pre-Columbian era culture and art, as well as modern Costa Rican art. The city is also host to the nation’s museum of gold and museum of jade.
Some of the city’s main museums are:
The Children’s Museum (Museo de los Niños)
The National Museum of Costa Rica (Museo Nacional de Costa Rica)
The Museum of Pre-Columbian Gold (Museo de Oro Precolombino)
The Museum of Costa Rican Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo)
Parks, Plazas, and Zoos
San José is home to many parks and squares (plazas in Spanish); where one can find gazebos, open green areas, recreational areas, lakes, fountains, statues and sculptures by Costa Rican artists and many different bird, tree and plant species.
The National Park (Parque Nacional)
Morazán Park (Parque Morazán) — with Neoclassical Temple of Music (Templo de la Música) pavilion.
San José Central Park (Parque Central)
La Sabana Metropolitan Park (Parque Metropolitano La Sabana) — largest park and “the lungs of San José,” in Mata Redonda District (west city).
Peace Park (Parque de la Paz)
Okayama Park (Parque Okayama) — Japanese style garden and architectural elements, ornamental ponds, and garden sculptures.
Plazas, or town squares, are very prominent across San José’ districts.
Culture Square—La Plaza de La Cultura (one example).
Simón Bolívar Zoo — city’s only zoo, with a large variety of native Costa Rican and exotic animals and plant species.