Although most of these are decorative, some are actually still utilized for carrying coffee beans, so, if you spot one of these in any part of the country, now you know where that oxcart was made.
The name Sarchi comes from an Aztec word that means “open field.” It fits the town’s description perfectly, as the first settlers, who arrived here back in the early 1800’s; were ranchers with cattle and large open properties.
The farming activities here were the center of the economy, but by 1890 the city had turned into the main producer of serial furniture in the country (especially of rocking chairs made of wood and leather).
A couple of families also started the production of oxcarts in Sarchi around this time. And now this symbol of the Costa Rica of old has also become the emblem of the town.
Sarchi now has a population of a little less than 5000 people, and the more than 200 artisan shops across town are at the center of the local economy, which is supplemented by the cultivation of coffee.
It is likely that you will be visiting this city on a one-day trip, as there are not many places where you can stay here; however, there are family-run small hotels which will always welcome the tourist that decides to spend a few days here exploring the surrounding areas.
Getting to Sarchi
If you are coming from San Jose, head to Alajuela, and follow the Pan-American Highway until you see the exit for Grecia; follow this road until you reach this town, and there you will find the signs for Sarchi.
You can also pick any of the daily buses at the terminal stations of San Jose or downtown Alajuela.
What to Do in Sarchi
Shopping is the main attraction in Sarchi, and you will certainly have a great time visiting the different artisan shops in the city; where you’ll find outstanding carpentry pieces (made from some of the best wood in Costa Rica) and really colorful souvenirs.
It is common for Costa Ricans from all over the country to come and do their furniture shopping here due to the high quality of the products.
Once you have done enough shopping, you can take some time to go to the local park and get your camera ready for a picture of you next to the world’s biggest oxcart. Which took the name of this small town to the pages of the Guinness World of Records back in 2006, when it was built.
Sarchi is really close to the town of Zarcero; where the attractive topiary works at the local park will make it impossible for you not to grab your camera and take a few shots.
Before arriving at Sarchi you will find the town of Grecia, another picturesque place that is worth a visit in this area. While you are either here, in Zarcero or Sarchi, you can also take some time to visit the local churches, all of which have a peaceful rural look a history of their own.
Important Numbers and Websites:
- Municipalidad: http://www.munisarchi.go.cr/
- Buses: 2258-2004
- Hospital San Rafael de Alajuela: 2436-1001