Founded in 1737, San Jose is a bustling city nestled inside a tropical paradise; San Jose sits in the center of the country in the Central Valley and is surrounded by gorgeous untouched cloud forests. Serving as a hub to the rest of the country, San Jose is the perfect place to use as a base camp to tour Costa Rica. The Juan Santamaria International Airport is just 20 minutes from downtown San Jose.
Downtown San Jose is where one can find most of the city’s museums and important buildings, such as:
The National Theater. Also referred to as the Opera House, the National Theater is perhaps the greatest source of national pride for Costa Ricans. The ornate playhouse was built in 1897 when upper-class Costa Ricans wanted to transform the capital from a sleepy town of 17,000 people into a stop on the world opera circuit. A tax was levied, passing the cost on to all citizens, involving the entire country in the process, who in turn still feel a sense of ownership in the theater. During the day, when there are no performances, the museum-like National Theater is great place to visit and discover its many treasures while learning about the local culture and costumes.
The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum. This museum exhibits an amazing collection of objects made in gold by the Pre-Columbian inhabitants of Costa Rica. This collection has a total of 1600 pieces that were worked from 500 AD to 1500 AD. The exhibition presents the functions of the pieces and their respective uses as well as the fabrication and techniques to create them in conjunction with its reflection of their social organization and everyday life of the societies. The Pre-Columbian artisans worked with alluvial gold, obtained from the river silt and coastal shoreline sand, most of the objects that have been recovered come from the South Pacific area of Costa Rica, where the natural gold used to exist. Some of the objects they made in gold were hooks, needles and symbols for personal adornments and to use them during their rituals. Many representations were based in fauna, like fish, jaguars, frogs and turtles, giving faith of the value they were given to the natural surroundings.
Since the downtown area is fairly small and is one of the most frequented parts of the city, do keep in mind that you will come across heavy traffic here with lots of noise and congestion. But don’t let this deter you, as this part of the city is the heart of San Jose. The streets and avenues here are usually bustling with pedestrians and traffic, so the best way to explore this area is by foot.