San José Things to Do Tips by Stephen-KarenConn Top 5 Page for this destination

San José Things to Do: 129 reviews and 268 photos

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Statue to Juan Mora Fernandez - San José

Statue to Juan Mora Fernandez

Statue to Juan Mora Fernandez

On prominent display in the Plaza de la Cultura is this statue of Juan Mora Fernandez (1784-1854) an early leader of the Republic of Costa Rica.

In 1824, just three years after Costa Rica gained its independence from Spain, Juan Mora Fernandez became the first elected head of state. Fernandez is best remembered for his land reforms and liberal policies. He is also credited with inadvertently creating an elite class of powerful coffee barons.

Address: Avenida 2, Calles 3/5

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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Cannons at the Old Fort - San José

Cannons at the Old Fort

Fort Bellavista

Visitors to the National Museum get a double treat because the museum is housed in the former Army headquarters of Costa Rica, Fort Bellavista. Bellavista means "Beautiful View," and the view from the fort overlooking the city is beautiful indeed. My opening photographs for this San Jose page were taken from there.

As you approach the old fort you will notice that the sides are riddled with bullet holes, put there by those who wanted to overthrow the government during the revolution of 1948 and before. In front of the fort and in the courtyard you will see old cannons.

After the civil war, on December 1, 1948, President José Figueres Ferrer abolished the Costa Rican army. In a ceremony here at the Fort Bellavista, Figueres broke a wall with a mallet symbolizing the end of Costa Rica's military spirit.

The national budget previously used to support the military is now dedicated to security, education and culture; the country maintains Police Guard forces. Since 1986, Costa Rica has celebrated Día de la Abolición del Ejército (Military abolition day), every year on Dec. 15. Unlike its neighbors, Costa Rica has not endured a civil war and has been the most peaceful country in all of Central America for more than half a century.

Website: http://www.infocostarica.com/history/1948.html

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 15, 2007
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Fuente de la Hispanidad - San José

Fuente de la Hispanidad

Fuente de la Hispanidad

Heading east on Avenida Central from central San José through Los Yoses, we passed a busy traffic circle with a huge fountain - the Fuente de la Hispanidad (Fountain of the Spanish Speaking World). This local landmark is hard to miss if you are passing through the area.

Another fountain by the same name, but with a very different design, can be found in Zaragozo, Spain.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 15, 2007
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Plaza de la Cultura - San José

Plaza de la Cultura

Plaza de la Cultura / Culture Square Plaza de la Cultura - Square of Culture Review

This small plaza is a focal point in the heart of San Jose. It is situated in front of the Grand Hotel and across the Street from the National Theater. The Plaza offers a great spot for tourists to give their feet a rest while doing a little people watching.

The attractive square provides benches, a fountain, several small shade trees and one magnificent towering Royal Palm. There is also a monument to the Juan Mora Fernandez, the first President of Costa Rica. This is the main square for San Jose and is visited by thousands of both locals and visitors every day. The Plaza often hosts celebrations, demonstrations, performances, etc.

Address: Avenida Central-2 - Calle 3-5

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 14, 2007
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Costa Rica National Theater - San José

Costa Rica National Theater

National Theater / Theatro Nacional National Theater Review

Located on the south side of the Plaza de la Cultura, Costa Rica's National Theater has been the nation's architectural show showpiece and cultural temple for more than a century. The theater had it's beginnings in 1890, when a European opera company featuring the prima donna Adelina Patti toured Central America but was unable to perform in Costa Rica because there was no suitable venue.

Wealthy coffee barons voted a tax on coffee exports to fund construction of a theater. Craftsmen were brought in from Europe were imported to build the magnificent structure with a classical Renaissance facade. The Theater was inaugurated in October 1897, with a performance of Faust by the Paris Opera and its famous Corps de Ballet.

Statues on the outside of the theater represent Dance, Music, and Fame. The inside foyer is decorated in pink marble with allegorical figures of Comedy and Tragedy. Beautiful murals depict native Costa Rican themes. A giant crystal chandelier hangs from the ceiling.

The auditorium floor was designed to be used as a ballroom as well as for performances by a manual winch which can raise the main floor to stage level.

Guided Tours:
Mon. - Fri. 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. - 12:30 and 1:30–5 p.m.

Admission: $3.00

Address: Avenida 2, Calles 3/5

Directions: In the central part of downtown San Jose, across from the Grand Hotel.

Phone: (506) 221-9417

Website: http://www.costaricaweb.com/tourism/teatronacional.htm

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 14, 2007
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The Smoking Room of the National Theater - San José

The Smoking Room of the National Theater

Smoking Room National Theater Review

The Smoking Room, on the front second story of the National Theater was so opulent that I thought it deserved a tip of its own. this was the prettiest part of the theater and certainly is in indication that smoking was looked upon more favorably a century ago than it is today.

The room has pink marble with ornate gold trim, green velvet seats, statuary, and murals of naked celestial deities on the ceiling. From the windows of the room there was a very good view of the Plaza de la Cultura, and also the Grand Hotel, across the street from the Theater.

Address: Avenida 2, Calles 3/5

Phone: (506) 221-9417

Website: http://www.cocori.com/library/crinfo/theatr.htm

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 14, 2007
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The National Museum of Costa Rica - San José

The National Museum of Costa Rica

Museo Nacional / National Museum Museo Nacional-National Museum Review

The National Museum is in an old military fort, symbolizing Costa Rica's peaceful tradition. The museum features pre-Columbian art with displays of gold, jade, stone and pottery. There are other pre-Columbian artifacts from indigenous cultures dating back more than 12,000 years.

Among the most interesting artifacts we saw were mysterious intricate carvings thought to have been made by peoples who occupied this part of Central America before the Mayans.

The museum encloses an open courtyard from which there are beautiful views overlooking downtown San Jose and the mountains beyond.

Hours:
Tue-Sat 8:30-16:30
Sun 9:00-14:30

Address: Central Ave. 15&17 Street, San Jose

Phone: 506-221-4429

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 12, 2007
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