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Parque Nacional

San José

One of San José’s nicest green spaces, this shady spot lures retirees to read newspapers and young couples to smooch coyly on concrete benches. At its center is the Monumento Nacional, a dramatic 1953 statue that depicts the Central American nations driving out North American filibuster William Walker. The park is dotted with myriad monuments devoted to Latin American historical figures, including Cuban poet, essayist and revolutionary José Martí, Mexican independence figure Miguel Hidalgo and 18th-century Venezuelan humanist Andrés Bello.

Across the street, to the south, stands the Asamblea Legislativa, which also bears an important statue: this one a depiction of Juan Santamaría – the young man who helped kick the pesky Walker out of Costa Rica – in full flame-throwing action.

A creative walker could easily connect Parque Francia, Parque Nacional, Parque Espana, and Parque Morazán, along Avenida 3, stopping at cafes and bookshops along the way.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby San José attractions

1. Asamblea Legislativa

0.08 MILES

Costa Rica's congress meets in this grand structure – known as the 'blue castle' – in the center of San José. It's scheduled to be replaced by a…

2. Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo

0.11 MILES

Commonly referred to as MADC, the Contemporary Art & Design Museum is housed in the historical National Liquor Factory building, which dates from 1856. It…

4. Centro Nacional de la Cultura

0.13 MILES

Housed in the historical National Liquor Factory, this cultural center contains the museum of art and design, a video museum, a gallery and two theaters.

5. Museo Nacional de Costa Rica

0.15 MILES

Entered via a beautiful glassed-in atrium housing an exotic butterfly garden, this museum provides a quick survey of Costa Rican history. Exhibits of pre…

6. Museo del Jade

0.16 MILES

This museum houses the world’s largest collection of American jade (pronounced ‘ha-day’ in Spanish), with an ample exhibition space of five floors…

7. Plaza de la Democracia

0.17 MILES

Between the Museo Nacional and the Museo de Jade is the stark Plaza de la Democracia, which was constructed by President Oscar Arias in 1989 to…

8. Casa Amarilla

0.22 MILES

On Parque España’s northeast corner, this elegant colonial-style yellow mansion (closed to the public) houses the Foreign Affairs Ministry. The ceiba tree…