San Jose, Costa Rica

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San Jose, Costa Rica: Vacations and Travel Info

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San Jose is the capital city of Costa Rica and of the province of San Jose. It's located in the center of the country in an area known as "Valle Central", an extensive plain framed by majestic volcanoes and green hills. San Jose is over 3,700 feet above sea level, with an average temperature of 74°F.

San Jose is the main entryway to the country, and its political, economic and social center. The city offers a wide variety of cultural and natural attractions and features several interesting museums. You'll also find incredible cuisine as well as a variety of hotels for all kinds of travelers and budgets.

History and Modernity

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Founded in the first half of the 18th century, San Jose is filled with an interesting mix of historic and modern elements. Its architecture reflects a strong European influence, which can be seen throughout many of the city's buildings, featuring colonial, neo-colonial, Art Nouveau, mudejar, and neoclassic styles, among others. One amazing example of neoclassic style can be seen in the Teatro Nacional, an architectural jewel and the pride of Costa Rica.


Neighborhoods of San Jose

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In the heart of this capital city sit the old "barrios" (neighborhoods) of Amon, Otroya and Aranjuez, each with historic and architectural value. Amon was built at the end of the 19th century during a period of great growth for Costa Rica. In Amon, you can visit the old Estacion del Ferrocarril al Atlantico (Train Station to the Atlantic), Parque Nacional and Parque Morazan, as well as the first upscale residential area in San Jose. Many homes from the same era still maintain their architectural beauty; some are still private residences, while others have been converted into hotels, hostels and restaurants.

One of the most beautiful areas in the city is Paseo Colon and Parque La Sabana. Along Paseo Colon street, you'll find important businesses, elegant modern homes built in the later 20th century, and Parque La Sabana, a perfect recreational park for the whole city to enjoy.

Nature Parks and Reserves

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Costa Rica is a small country that holds 5% of the planet's overall biodiversity. Around 25% of Costa Rican territory is protected in national parks and nature reserves, making it the country with the most protected natural areas in the world. Near San Jose, you can find several national parks holding the region's main volcanoes: Poas Volcano, Braulio Carrillo, Irazu and Turrialba National Parks. All of these parks are open to the public, the perfect places to experience incredible landscapes, craters, and forests overflowing with birds and exotic animals.

Historically, the most active volcano in Costa Rica has been Irazu, the largest neighboring volcano to San Jose. Located just 18 miles from the city center, this giant stands at over 11,200 feet above sea level; both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea can be seen from its peak. Irazu volcano has five craters, and has been a national park since 1955. Even though it's the highest volcano in the country, its peak is easily reachable in a simple vehicle, making it accessible for all visitors.

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