On this fascinating tour, guests are regaled with stories of the art, architecture and people behind Costa Rica's crown jewel, the...
Plaza de la Cultura
For many Ticos, Costa Rica begins here. This architecturally unremarkable concrete plaza in the heart of downtown is usually packed with...
Museo de Oro Precolombino y Numismática
This three-in-one museum houses an extensive collection of Costa Rica's most priceless pieces of pre-Columbian gold and other artifacts,...
Costa Rica’s most important theater stages plays, dance, opera, symphony, Latin American music and other major events. The main season...
Alma de Café
One of the most beautiful cafes in the city, this atmospheric spot evokes early-20th-century Vienna. In other words, a perfect place to...
Av 2 btwn Calles 3 & 5 · interesting places nearby
Teatro Nacional information
On the southern side of the Plaza de la Cultura resides the Teatro Nacional, San José’s most revered building. Constructed in 1897, it features a columned neoclassical facade that is flanked by statues of Beethoven and famous 17th-century Spanish dramatist Calderón de la Barca. The lavish marble lobby and auditorium are lined with paintings depicting various facets of 19th-century life. The hourly tours here are fantastic, and if you’re looking to rest your feet, there's also an excellent onsite cafe .
The theater's most famous painting is Alegoría al café y el banano, an idyllic canvas showing coffee and banana harvests. The painting was produced in Italy and shipped to Costa Rica for installation in the theater, and the image was reproduced on the old ₡5 note (now out of circulation). It seems clear that the painter never witnessed a banana harvest because of the way the man in the center is awkwardly grasping a bunch (actual banana workers hoist the stems onto their shoulders).