Cartago, one of the provinces of Costa Rica, is located in the central area of the country. And its main city is one of the places with more history in the country.
The city of Cartago was founded back in 1563, and it served as the capital of the country until 1823, when it was decided that San Jose was going to be the new capital as it was a larger economic center.
The infrastructure of this city has been seriously affected by different earthquakes, the last one taking place in 1910.
Cartago has a population of about 432,000, and 156,000 reside in the capital city.
Agriculture is at the center of the economy in the rural areas, and a lot of people from the city go to San Jose to work (though the creation of an industrial park here has allowed some people to stay working here).
Getting To Cartago
To make it to Cartago from San Jose, the capital of the country, you need to take the Florencio del Castillo Highway.
To get to the point where this highway starts, located in Curridabat, you need to make it to the city of San Pedro first.
Note: Although Cartago is really close to San Jose, if you are traveling there at peak times (7 to 9 am and 5 to 7 pm) you can expect the normal trip of 30 minutes to extend for maybe a couple of hours.
Buses for Cartago are departing from downtown San Jose every 10 minutes.
They are quite comfortable and the fare is inexpensive. So if you happen to be in the capital and wish to take a short trip to another major city in the country; Cartago is an excellent option.
Alternatively, you can also pick up a collective taxi (they leave until they have four passengers) next to the National Theater in San Jose, and the fare is also inexpensive.
What to Do in Cartago
If you come to Cartago, you can’t miss a visit to the Basilica de Los Angeles, which is probably the most storied church in Costa Rica. Although it was built back in 1639, it has suffered the consequences of several earthquakes, but now is completely restored.
The best time to visit the Basilica is in August; when millions of Costa Ricans walk from all over the country to pay tribute to the Lady of the Angels; the virgin to which the church is dedicated.
A visit to the Irazu Volcano is another excellent reason to come to Cartago, as this is one of the few active volcanoes in the country and also the highest one.
Although the summit of the Irazu Volcano is rarely clear from clouds, when it is, visitors are able to see both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans at the same time.
Another volcano worth a visit in this province is the Turrialba, which is located next to the Irazu.
It has 3 craters, and you can watch them all from the different trails around the volcano.
If you feel like hiking, the top can be reached in roughly 3 hours, depending on your personal ability.
If you want to experience some of the natural beauty in the country but don’t want to make it too far from the center of the country, you should also check the Tapanti National Park.
It is located near the counties of El Guarco, Paraiso and Jimenez in Cartago. And it is a place where you’ll find more than 45 species of mammals; including Monkeys and Deers, 28 species of reptiles and more than 260 species of birds.
It rains a lot in here, so we recommend you to bring a jacket and an umbrella.
Important Numbers and Websites:
- Municipalidad: www.muni-carta.go.cr
- Buses: 2537-2320
- Max Peralta Hospital: 2550-1999