Introducing Cartago Area
The riverbank setting of the city of Cartago was handpicked by Spanish Governor Juan Vásquez de Coronado, who said that he had ‘never seen a more beautiful valley.’ Cartago was founded as Costa Rica’s first capital in 1563, and Coronado’s successors endowed the city with fine colonial architecture. However, as things tend to happen in Costa Rica, the city was destroyed during a 1723 eruption of the Volcán Irazú. Any remaining landmarks were toppled by the earthquakes in 1841 and 1910.
Although the city was relegated to back-water status when the seat of government moved to San José in 1823, the surrounding area, particularly the Orosi Valley, flourished during the days of the coffee trade. Today much of the region continues to be devoted to the production of coffee, among other agricultural products. And though Cartago no longer has the prestige of being a national capital, it nonetheless remains a vital commercial hub – not to mention the site of the most important religious monument in the country.