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City of Cartago

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Cartago is a city with a lot of Costa Rican heritage. Originally, it was the capital of Costa Rica, and the main hub for government. It lost it's political ambiance in 1823, when everything was relocated to San Jose, including Capital status, but remains a busy city and a popular destination.

Founded in 1563 by Juan Vasquez de Coronado, the city has changed faces a couple of times. In fact, the original city was located a few kilometers away and was moved to avoid the heavy rainfall. Following the move, the city was badly damaged by the eruption of the Irazu Volcano in 1723, followed by the devastating effects of the 1822, 1841 and 1910 earthquakes. To visit the city today, one would not know that this city is one of the oldest Spanish settlements in the country. Modern architecture masks the rubble of the old city. In fact, the park in the center is the “remains” of the main church of Cartago. Said to be ruins, but it is debatable about whether it was just unfinished due to the earthquake in 1910.

Interestingly enough, the city is also famous for its folklore. Home to La Negrita, or “The Black Madonna” many visitors come here in with high hopes of being healed by the statue, especially on August 2nd (the feast day of the Virgin Angels). Discovered by a young girl on the riverbank, the statue was said to appear, and disappear several times in that location. Housed in the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles, the statue is supposedly kept in the same location as where it was discovered, including the rock where the image was said to be originally seen.

Today remains a active city, surrounded by nature. Many come here to enjoy the Irazu and Turriabla Volcanoes, Guayablo National Park, Lankester Gardens, and the entire Orosi Valley. The city is a nice blend of greenery and modern architecture with a hint of the history still remaining.

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