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Costa Rica
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About Location

Cartago is a city in Costa Rica, about 25 km (15 miles) east of the capital, San Jose.It is at an elevation of about 1435 m above sea level, at the base of the Irazu Volcano.Cartago is the capital of Cartago province.The city covers an area of 152,68 km2. It includes the districts of city downtown: Oriental, Occidental (known as the typical downtown area), San Nicolas (the main entrance to the city, at west), El Carmen (north), Dulce Nombre, San Francisco (at south, San Francisco is known commonly as Aguacaliente), and Guadalupe (Arenilla).The city is part, with the cities of San Rafael de Oreamuno and Tejar del Guarco, of a continuous urban area that, in 2008, had a population of 156,600 inhabitants, according to the Statistics and Census Institute of Costa Rica.

The city was granted a coat of arms by King Philip II of Spain in 1565, and the title of Muy Noble y Muy Leal ("Very Noble and Very Loyal") by the Cortes (Spanish Parliament) in 1814.It served as the first capital of Costa Rica until 1823, when Republican leader Gregorio Jose Ramirez ,moved the capital to the bigger city of San Jose, because Cartago wanted to unite the newly independent province of Costa Rica to the Iturbide's Mexican Empire while San Jose and Alajuela supported a Republican system.The city was severely damaged by major earthquakes in 1822, 1841 and 1910.In 1963, a volcanic eruption of Irazu Volcano which for two years covered San José in ash badly damaged some agricultural areas around Cartago, but not the city.

The province is known for its rich ecological diversity and dense tropical rainforests along the mountain ranges near the Irazu and Turrialba volcanoes.Cartago is home of the Costa Rica Institute of Technology, one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in the country and one of Central America's most important engineering schools. It is located in Distrito Oriental not far from Los Angeles Basilica.On April 24, 2010 the former "Cuartel de la Ciudad", home of the local police, finally opened after a two-year restoration as the new City Museum. It is located 2 blocks north of the Plaza Mayor.

Many pilgrims come to Cartago annually, to visit the nation's principal church, the enormous Basílica de Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles, on the feast day of the Virgin of the Angels (August 2). The church has a statue of the Black Madonna known as La Negrita, who supposedly had great healing powers. The sick come to her statue in hope of a miracle from La Negrita.

How to Reach

By Air

The nearest Airport for Cartago is Juan Santamaria International Airport,A cab ride into the center of town costs only around US$5, as opposed to US$20 to Cartago.

By Bus

There are many buses running between San Jose and Cartago. For c300 you will be able to catch a bus downtown or most anyplace along Av 2. They run every 15 minutes. "Indirect" buses from San Isidro de El General to San Jose stop on the outskirts of Cartago next to a stop for local buses.

Key places to visit
Irazu Volcano, Orosi Valley, Cachi Dam, Tapanti National Park, The Lankaster Botanical Gardens, Turrialba, Las Ruins, The Basilica


Places to Visit

Irazu Volcano

Is located around 30 km (12 miles) from Cartago downtown is one of the most famous volcanos in Costa Rica. This volcano erupted in 1963 when John F. Kennedy was visiting Costa Rica, right now is extinguished.On Sunday mornings only, a bus from San Jose takes on passengers at an unmarked point near the bus terminal in Cartago sometime after 8:30AM (4000 colones return) and return at 12:30PM from the National Park. Park entrance fee for foreigners only: $US10 / 5020 colones.

Orosi Valley

Orosi is a small town about 12 km (8 mi) east of Cartago where you can see one of the first churches built in Costa Rica. Is surrounded by beautiful mountains and coffee plantations. Easily you can find hostels, hotels and restaurants in the area.

Cachi Dam

Cachi Dam Is next to Orosi around 7 km (5 mi) east. A Dam was built in the 70s and the lake is surrounded also by beautiful mountains. Cachi is also a little town where "casa del leñador" or the woodcutter house can be found. It is a place to buy woodcraft made from the coffee roots. Some very good restaurants are located around the lake, the speciality is Trout.Trout growers are very often in this area of Costa Rica and you can catch the fish for yourself and just wait to be fried afterwards. The Area has experienced a very important grow for people that look for properties specially foreigners. Few years ago a five star Hotel was opened RIO PERLAS and another is on paper right now that will offer stay for people that is in Costa Rica for a special health treatment.

The Lankaster Botanical Gardens

The Lankaster Botanical Gardens in Paraiso, just outside of Cartago (7 km east). Home to Central America's largest collection of orchids and epiphytes, Lankaster is a must see. A new Japanese garden is under construction November 2009.

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