Cartago Costa Rica

Central Valley, Costa Rica
Cartago Province
Elevation : 1575 mts.


Cartago Costa Rica

Cartago is one of the oldest towns in Costa Rica, founded in 1563 and it was the capital of Costa Rica until 1823. Not many colonial buildings survive, as the city has been damaged frequently by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. However, traces of culture and history can still be found. The Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles and the Cartago Ruins are definitely the most significant historical sites.

Things to do in Cartago

Cartago Ruins
Built in 1575, Las Ruinas shows unique architecture and intricate design. They are the skeleton of a Romanesque church that includes remains of walls and staircases.  Originally, the church was intended to be devoted to the apostle St. James, but an earthquake interrupted progress, and though re-construction began in the second half of the 19th century, another earthquake in 1910 destroyed the building.

Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles 
This Roman Catholic church has a classic Byzantine style, located in the heart of Cartago Costa Rica. Built in 1639, the Basilica was partially destroyed by an earthquake, and a series of earthquakes that followed kept it crumbling and incomplete. In 1912, The Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles was restored by Spanish architect Luis Llach Llagostera, a project that lasted 12 years and was completed in 1924. Each August, over 2 million pilgrims make a spiritual journey to the basilica, walking from various points throughout Costa Rica.

Lankester Gardens
The history of the Lankester Botanical Garden dates back to the 1940's when British naturalist Charles H. Lankester became interested in the cultivation and study of epiphytic plants in Costa Rica. As an amateur botanist, he collaborated with the most prominent Orchidologists of the time and dedicated his life to creating a private garden on his estate. After his death the importance of preserving his garden was evident. Through the joint efforts of the American Orchid Society and the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust, the garden was donated to the University of Costa Rica on March 2, 1973 with a commitment to transform it into a botanical garden. With dedication and a lot of effort, the Lankester Botanical Garden has become one of the most active and important botanical institutions in the Neotropics.

Cartago tours to other destinations nearby

Irazu Volcano National Park
The Irazu Volcano is an active volcano in Costa Rica, situated in the Cordillera Central close to the city of Cartago. The volcano is contained within the Irazú Volcano National Park, which spreads across 5,705 acres (2,300 ha). The national park contains both primary and secondary montane forests and is home to armadillos, owls, rabbits, foxes, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds.

In this picturesque town where you can enjoy some of the best white water rafting and kayaking in the world! Turrialba is also famous for the Guayabo National Monument, the production of amazing cheese and for the Turrialba Volcano which is one of the most active volcanoes in Costa Rica. 

Tapanti National Park
Tapanti covers more than 117,000 acres of the Cartago region. It is home to some of the world's most exotic miniature orchids, which were discovered in 2009. Tapanti contains part of the Orosi river, which has many smaller subsidiaries that generate hydraulic power for much of the metropolitan San Jose area through the Orosi Aqueduct. Wildlife lovers will appreciate the many species of birds, mammals, and reptiles found in this area.

Orosi Valley
The Orosi Valley is one of the oldest communities in Costa Rica. This lush valley, with the meandering Rio Reventazon at its floor, was home to the indigenous culture. It remains one of the few areas to have survived the successive earthquakes during the Spanish colonial period. The Orosi colonial church and Ujarras Ruins are a site to see and enjoy.

Location and Map

The city of Cartago is located to the east of the Central Valley, at the foot of Irazu Volcano.

Contact our Cartago Costa Rica Vacation Guides today by visiting our Costa Rica Trip Planner!