José, the Capital of Costa Rica, located at 1149 m
above sea level, maintains an average all year round temperature
of 24°C and is home to the main museums and cultural centers.
This is where you might spend your first night before embarking
on the unforgettable experience of discovering the natural
beauty this small country has to offer.
San José's foremost architectural showpiece, the National Theater is a source of pride to Costa Ricans everywhere. Inaugurated on October 19, 1897 with a performance of "Faust" by the Paris Opera Company, the building's origins date to 1890 when the Italian opera singer, Angela Pelati, gave a number of performances in Guatemala but refused to come to Costa Rica due to the lack of a proper theater. The members of the country's coffee elite proposed that a theater be built in San José to correct this situation and agreed to contribute five centavos per exported sack of coffee to finance the construction.
Some parts of the theater were crafted in Europe and shipped to Costa Rica for assembly, such as the metal framework which was cast in Belgium and many of the statues, murals, and ceiling frescos which are the work of Italian artists that never saw Costa Rica. The stunning baroque design features ample use of 221/2 karat gold overlay and Carrara marble.
The National Symphonic Orchestra season runs from March to
November with performances on Thursday and Friday evenings
and again on Sunday mornings. Periodically, other activities
ranging from the Moscow ballet and Chinese acrobats to state
dinners and Costa Rican theatrical presentations are also
scheduled. The coffee shop adjoining the main lobby is a wonderful
place to sit and watch the world go by.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 09:00 a.m. – 03:30 p.m.
Address: Calle 17 / between Avenida Central and Avenida 2
Best known for the variety of pre-Columbian artifacts
on permanent display, the National Museum also has exhibits
dedicated to Costa Rican religious art and the history of
the country since the Spanish conquest. The building itself
has historic significance since it was once a military fortress
and after the abolishment of the army, following the Revolution
of 1948, was converted into the museum.
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 08:30 a.m. – 04:30 p.m., Sundays 09:00 a.m. bis 04:30 p.m. Closed on Mondays!
Address: Calle 17, between Avenida Central and Avenida Segunda on the Plaza de la Democracia
Museum of Jade (“Museo del Jade“)
Although the numerous pre-Columbian jade pieces on display are among the most impressive anywhere, the museum also features excellent examples of indigenous craftsmanship in stone, ceramics, and gold. Housed on the 11th floor of the National Insurance Company (INS) building, the view of the city and surrounding mountains is an added attraction to a visit to this museum.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 08:00 a.m. to 03:30 p.m., Saturday 09:00 a.m. to 01:00 p.m.
Address: In the basement oft he National Insurance Institute INS, Avenida 7 and Calle 11
Art Museum (“Museo de Arte Costarricense”)
Rotating selections from the permanent collection together
with temporary exhibitions showcase the artwork of Costa Rican
painters and sculptors in a building that was once an airport
terminal. The Sabana Metropolitan Park which stretches west
behind the museum was formerly the international airport landing
strip in the days prior to jet planes.
Located at the western end of Paseo Colón (avenida
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 09:00 a.m. to 04:00 p.m., closed on Mondays!
Address: Parque Metropolitano La Sabana, at the statue of León Cortés, Avenida Central and Calle 42
Gold Museum (“Museo del Oro Precolombino”)
Operated by the Central Bank of Costa Rica, this museum
houses an extensive collection of pre-Columbian gold in which
the level of artistry achieved by native craftsman working
with this precious metal is easily appreciated. The exhibition
rooms have been completely remodeled in 2002.
The entrance to the museum is on calle 5, beneath the Plaza
de la Cultura.
Opening hours: Daily between 09:30 a.m. and 05:00 p.m.
Address: Below the Plaza de la Cultura, Avenida Central and Calle 5
La Salle Museum
This Natural Science Museum offers a collection of 55.000 species, amongst which from the areas of etymology and ornithology. It is one of the most comprehensive museums of the capital and shows for example more than 8000 butterflies, fish, reptiles, birds and mammals. The museum is located opposite of the South-Eastern corner of the Sabana Park, opposite of the Ministery of Agronomy and Stock-Breeding.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 08:00 a.m. – 04:00 p.m., Sunday 09:00 a.m. – 05:00 p.m.
Address: 300 m North of Canal 7, opposite of the Ministry of Agronomy and Stock-Breeding