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Located near the skirts of the Volcano in the Central Valley of Cartago, the capital of the same name is one of the oldest cities in the country. Cartago was the capital of Costa Rica, but it was partially destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1732, and San José later took over as the country’s cultural and entertainment center in 1832. After the eruption, most of the city has not been touched, and remains one of the largest cities in the country.


Founded in 1563 by Juan Vásquez de Coronado, the Spanish settlement remains one of the most important cities in the country. In fact, the city was larger than San José before it became the capital. Today, visitors can see ruins dating back to the 16th century, especially in the city’s central park. While the city’s proximity to the Irazú Volcano adds to the stunning landscape, it has caused a series of devastating events that destroyed buildings, including the first basilica of Carthage.

Cartago is surrounded by rich soil in the central and Orosí valleys, making it a first-class agricultural center. Potatoes, onions and orchids are the most important crops in the region. The Lankester Botanical Gardens are one of the best places to appreciate the flora of the area, but nothing in terms of orchids.

Things to Do

Built in 1575, the outer walls of the Parish Ruins only remain today after being destroyed by two earthquakes, but the unique architecture and intricate design is still worth a visit. This is not the only area of ​​ruins worth visiting. The Carthage Ruins have a deep rooted past – which started with two brothers fighting over the same woman. After one brother killed the other in one night, it was decided to build a church there. Every time it was built, an earthquake destroyed it. After the devastation in 1910, the ruins remained as they were, and it remains as the town square today.

Few ways to explore a city are better than sampling its food, and La Puerta del Sol adheres to this rule. Opened in 1957, this establishment has been serving Costa Rican specialties with photographs from past times. Most of Cartago’s attractions are historic, the Museo Municipal de Cartago opened in 2010 and serves as one of the most technologically advanced attractions with a digital library, multimedia exhibits, and live performances.

 Planning a visit in August?

This is one of the most important moments of the year for Carthage, as people from all over the country make a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels to say their most important prayers and to thank. This church is home to the famous black girl from Los Angeles, who is rumored to have appeared on a stone, and a girl took her home to keep it. It kept appearing on the same stone day after day. The locals took this as a sign from heaven and built the church on that very spot.

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