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Home » Destination Guides - Countries » Costa Rica » Cartago


Cartago was the capital city of Costa Rica for several centuries, but its important historical buildings were destroyed by the numerous earthquakes over the centuries. Two buildings remain that are worth seeing. First, the ruins of the church in front of the central park. It was abandoned in mid-construction because of an earthquake. The ruins are in the centre of a charming little park that is an ideal place to relax and take in the modern urban scene. Also, there is the Basílica Nuestra Señora de los Angeles, to which thousands of pilgrims flock every year on August 2, some of them coming from San José, 22 kilometres away, to pay homage to La Negrita (Our Lady of the Angels). Each year, people claiming to have been healed by the statue leave symbols of the part of them that was healed at the foot of the statue. The basilica itself is lovely, built in a somewhat Byzantine style.

Our Lady of the Angels

The statue of La Negrita was found at the site of the present basilica. It is said to have mysteriously reappeared there after having been taken away, and many miracles have been attributed to it.

Between Cartago and Paraíso are the Lankester Gardens, created by Charles Lankester, a British botanist. There are over 800 orchid species on display here. There is also an arboretum with plants and trees from the differing ecosystems found in Costa Rica. The gardens are now managed by the University of Costa Rica and are open to the public.


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