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Named in honor of Joseph of Nazareth, San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital sits in the Central Valley region with the Talamanca Mountains to the south and volcanoes to the north. The city is distinguished by its Spanish colonial buildings: such as the ornate neoclassical National Theatre that is overlooking downtown’s Plaza de la Cultura, a popular gathering spot. Below the plaza, the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum displays hundreds of gleaming artifacts.
The city is the seat of the national government and the pulsing transport, political and economic heart. Daily more than a million people swarm into its realms for work, as few people actually live within its boundaries. San Jose is one of the safest and less violent cities in the region. In a country that has more than 5% of the world's biodiversity, this is where butterflies reign as 10% of the world's fluttering creatures live in Costa Rica. It is definitely not for those that hate creepy crawlies, as there are 750,000 species of insects and 20,000 kinds of spiders.
You have to dig a bit deep to find the charm of this city with its honking traffic and unremarkable concrete structures that will hit you in the face. It is worth poking around the historic neighbourhoods to be captivated by its allure. Barrio Amon overflows with colonial mansions that have been given makeovers into restaurants, boutique hotels and contemporary art galleries. You can join the throng of locals at the farmers market or take a stroll in Parque La Sabana on a Sunday with the hordes that are out to mingle. For the museum buff there are plenty to explore or let loose at one of the many night venues and show-off your salsa skills.
If you feel the need for a bit of culture, San José has some of the most beautiful theatres with European-inspired architecture where you can take in a show. Maybe swan around one of the many plazas or squares, popping into a cafe for a caffeine hit or two, whilst you watch the passing parade.
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