The national monument of Guayabo is located about 19 km (12 miles) north-east from the town of Turrialba and is the largest and most important archaeological site in Costa Rica. Here, a about 3000 years old pre-Columbian settlement has been found. There is evidence that it has been inhabited as from 100 B.C. by a population of more than 10,000 people, an unusual high number for this age, and suddenly been abandoned in the early 15th century. Until today, it is unclear what the reasons for the abandoning shortly before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores could have been.
From the ranger station in the entrance of the monument, the visitor walks through dense, tropical vegetation towards the excavation site. It protects archaeological structures like stone mounds, roads, bridges and aqueducts of an important commercial and religious center dating back between 800 to 1400 B.C. Some mysteries surround Guayabo since a large area still has not been excavated.
Its scenic location on the densely wooded foothills of the Turrialba makes it attractive not only to the visitor interested in archeology, but is also worth a visit for nature lovers.
There are two trails opened to the public:
Ruins Trail: Distance 1.5 km (0.9 miles) / 2 hours
Nature Trail: Distance 1 km (0.6 miles) / 1 hour
Opening hours: Daily between 08:00 a.m. and 04:00 p.m.
Distance from San José: 84 km (53 miles)