Find Out What The Province of Cartago Has for You

    One of the most fascinating places in Costa Rica

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    Visit the province of Cartago, in Costa Rica, and get to know the culture and nature of this beautiful place. Cartago is a Costa Rican city, capital of the canton and the province of the same name. It is located in the Guarco Valley, in the central region of Costa Rica.

    Geographically it is at an altitude of 1,435 m above sea level, on the slopes of the Irazú Volcano, 24 km southeast of the city of San José. The central urban area of the city is divided into three districts: Eastern district, of 2.39 km² with 15,000 inhabitants, the Western district, of 1.99 km² with 10,000 inhabitants and the southern part of the district of El Carmen with 4.35 km² and 20,000 inhabitants.

    The historic center of 10 square kilometers has 26 streets and 22 avenues between the General Cemetery and the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels in an east-west direction and from the Municipal Museum to the Municipal Campus in a north-south direction. In it are concentrated most of the shops, the town hall, the Ruins of Santiago Apostle, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels and the College of San Luis Gonzaga which is, by its antiquity, the first institution of secondary education in the country; In addition, there is the Museum of Cartago and the Technological Institute of Costa Rica, the most important university in Costa Rica for engineering.

    The metropolitan area of Cartago comprises around 180 km² and also includes the districts of San Nicolás, Agua Caliente, Guadalupe and Dulce Nombre of the Central canton, as well as the districts of Paraíso, Llanos de Santa Lucía, San Rafael of the Orémalo canton, and the districts of El Tejar and San Isidro of the El Guarco canton.

    The metropolitan area of Carthage has a population of approximately 300,000 inhabitants. Carthage has a modern roadway entrance to the city by the 6th km sector of La Lima and an interconnected road (Boulevard del Molino) from the Guadalupe sector to Dulce Nombre (2.5 km), which connects the road to Tejar with the road to Agua Caliente. In its perimeter is one of the largest industrial areas in the country. An industrial complex along the 8th km of National Route # 2 on a straight line of Llano del Tejar, which includes El Tejar, Coris, Guadalupe and La Lima, with leading industries in the medical and technology sectors.


    It was founded in 1563 by the Spanish conqueror Juan Vázquez de Coronado at the confluence of the Pirates and Cori’s rivers and according to Juan Vázquez de Coronado himself in a statement to H.M. King Philip II said that “I planned a city in that valley, seated next to two rivers. The valley has three and a half leagues in length and a half in width; it has many lands for wheat and corn and the climate of Valladolid, with good soil and sky. I named the city Carthage, for being called this province you gave a name.”

    Subsequently, the conqueror Per Afán de Ribera y Gómez moved it to a place called Mataredonda, which was apparently at the confluence of the Tiribi and Damas rivers, and finally, Alonso Anguilana de Gamboa moved it to its current location.

    Cartago was the first permanent establishment of the Spaniards in Costa Rica that managed to last and in several documents; it is mentioned with the name of Santiago de Cartago. Although in its beginnings it was a city of Spaniards, it soon had numerous mestizo families, also on the outskirts of its western sector the indigenous people of San Juan de Herrera de los Naborías were formed, and in the western sector a neighborhood of blacks, mulattos and zambos known as the Puebla de los Pardos or the Puebla de los Ángeles, because there was an image of the Virgin of the Angels that made it a pilgrimage center.

    It was graced by H.M. King Felipe II of Spain with a coat of arms in 1565, and the Cortes of Cádiz granted it in 1814 the treatment of Very Noble and Very Loyal for it’s to King Ferdinand VII. Carthage was the residence of the Spanish governors since its
    foundation in 1563, until the independence of the Central American provinces in 1821 and the headquarters of the first government boards of Costa Rica after emancipation. However, according to the Concord Pact of 1821, between 1822 and 1823 the capital rotated between Cartago, San José, Heredia, and Alajuela. In the first Political Statute of 1823, it was arranged for Carthage to be the capital again, but almost immediately, the first civil war of the state between Republicans and imperialists occurred.

    The triumph of the coalition formed by the cities of Alajuela and San José resulted in the Republican leader Gregorio José Ramírez serving as a dictator for a few days; and the capital was transferred to San José, which was a larger and more developed city due to tobacco cultivation, located further north in the Central Valley.

    Carthage, which was badly damaged in 1822 by the San Estanislao earthquake, was destroyed on September 2, 1841, by the San Antolin earthquake, which practically left it in ruins, with a total of 38 deaths, 16 of which occurred in the city of Carthage itself.  The Santa Monica earthquake, which occurred on May 4, 1910, completely destroyed it again and caused hundreds of fatalities and many wounded.

    “Cartaginés” is used to refer to the local population. The city has two nicknames, “The Old Metropolis,” in reference to the time during which it served as the capital of Costa Rica, and “The city of Mists,” in reference to the fog that develops in the area during the greater part of the year; the latter nickname has given rise to the popular “Brumoso” (misty), widely used to refer to the city’s soccer team and its fans.


    The most famous celebration that takes place in the city of Carthage is the pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels, which takes place on the eve of August 2nd. of each year. According to the legend, the image of the Virgin appeared to Juana Pereira, a native of the area, in 1635, several times, so it was decided to build a memorial temple in the same place. Also, another interesting place in the city is the so-called “Ruinas” (ruins), the construction of a Romanesque temple (the parish dedicated to Santiago Apostle), which was damaged considerably by the Santa Monica earthquake, on May 4, 1910, and was left like that. They are located in the center of the city, with a beautiful and well-groomed park inside.

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