Cartago is both a city and a province, one rich in history, culture, and beauty. The city of Cartago is one of the oldest in the country, the first capital city of Costa Rica until 1823. The town was founded by Juan Vasquez de Coronado in 1563, a quickly flourishing agriculture and trade community. The nearby river and rich soil surrounding it, in general, made this city so great during its time, up until 1732 when a volcanic eruption destroyed most of the city. Since that eruption, the city has been essentially left untouched, with various historic ruins and remaining buildings scattered throughout.
Cartago is considered to be a small and tranquil community today, with plenty of historic churches and buildings to see during your visit. This is possibly one of the best spots in the country to get local cultural insight, the area being perfectly juxtaposed with history and progression.
The city of Cartago is located just southeast of San Jose, the current capital. Here are a few staple things you should see and do while in Cartago (both city and province):
- La Negrita - Black Madonna Shrine at Our Lady of the Angels Basilica.
- Lankester Botanical Garden - Over 1,000 different species of orchids.
- Tapantí Macizo De La Muerte National Park - Monkeys, rare birds, and beautiful local landscape.
- Santiago Apostol Parish Ruins - Historic remnants considered today to be the city’s ‘Central Park’.
- Costa Rica Institute of Technology - The top local spot to study business and engineering.
- Museo Municipal de Cartago - One of the most technologically advanced museums in the province.
- La Puerta Del Sol - A highly popular eatery featuring Tico specialties and historic photos.
- Irazu Volcano - An active volcano with a tumultuous past.