The Republic of Costa Rica, a tropical haven, is a country in Central America. It dwells inside the lush and green landscapes and is blessed with the beautiful Caribbean sea on one side and the colossal yet serene pacific ocean on the other. The residents of Costa Rica or ‘Ticos’, greet each other by using the term Pura Vida, which means simple or pure life which advocates for the fact that Costa Rica is declared as the happiest country in entire Latin America by the UN. Its geographical location in Central America and the rich history, makes Costa Rica, a vibrant and diverse country. Its Spanish influence from colonization reflects the culture of the country. One can observe a great interest in pre-Columbian art, films, and theatre in the residents of Costa Rica.
The culture and history are mirrored in the architecture of the Republic of Costa Rica. The pre-Columbian influence and a colorful blend of Mesoamerican, Central American, and Spanish architecture are seen. These historical buildings are perfectly complemented by the new age contemporary architecture in Costa Rica. The country is one of the most favored tourist destinations, and is home to some of the most interesting hospitality and housing marvels. Some of these wonders of Costa Rica are mentioned below.
1. Teatro Nacional (National Theatre of Costa Rica )
The Teatro Nacional- a monument that symbolizes the love for art and theatre, and is also considered as the pride of Costa Rica. It is located in the national capital of San Jose. The neoclassical structure is a timeless piece of art and a beautiful reflection of the culture. The main building materials used are brick and stone. Marble and granite are used for the exterior façade. The interior of the theatre does not disappoint the visitor. With the breathtaking ceiling adorned with beautiful paintings and the neoclassical style of seating arrangement with intricate ornamental features, the Teatro Nacional takes us back to the 19th century. The main attraction of this building is the statue of Calderon De la Barca and Ludwig van Beethoven in the front. The construction of this colossal theatre was funded by the coffee merchants of Costa Rica through coffee taxation. The ceiling of the theatre is covered in paintings depicting this fact, as a tribute to the coffee merchants. This monument was unfortunately destroyed in an earthquake in 1991 but was built again in 1993 by engineer Nicolas Chavarria.
2. Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles
Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels is another beautiful architectural marvel of Costa Rica. It is located in the historic town of Cartago. It was built in 1639. This Basilica is an exquisite example of a classic Byzantine style of architecture. The structural elements like columns (Corinthian) of the basilica represent the beautiful ornate Byzantine characteristics. The stained glass adds to the beauty of this place. The symmetrical pattern in the interior is reflected in the ceiling as well. Rose windows beautify the exterior of the basilica. This monument was destroyed in an earthquake soon after it was built. It was rebuilt by Architect Lluis Llach Llagostera in 1924. The basilica is one of the most visited tourist attractions and is also a monument with immense religious significance, hosting 2 million (approximately) pilgrims every year.
3. Castillo Azul
Castillo Azul or The Blue Castle is located in San Jose. It is a building with political significance as it belongs to the Legislative assembly of Costa Rica. Its interesting combination of architectural style makes it an exotic structure in Costa Rica. It is a classic blend of Neoclassical and Mediterranean architecture style. It was built in the year 1911 and has been hosting political activities ever since. The architectural elements like semi-circular arches and patios showcase the European influence on the architecture of the monument, which complements the Mediterranean and modern elements very well. It is a two-story structure housing six rooms. These rooms are decorated with European styled furniture.
4. Castillo del Morro
Castillo del Morro is located in San Jose. This structure is a classic example of the Spanish influence on the architecture of Costa Rica, because of the Spanish Colonization. Castillo del Morro is designed in the Neomudejar style of architecture. This architecture style is adapted in parts of Spain and Portugal. This exclusive architecture makes the monument a treat for the architects. The Moorish elements of the structure immediately catch the eye of the observer. The intricate ornamentation in the exterior with the semi-circular arches and cornices made of ceramics capture its true exotic character. Spanish mosaics and beautification of windows and walls can be seen. The presence of Gargoyles in the exterior adds to the Mudejar style of architecture. The internal planning consists of a central courtyard with a fountain to add to the aesthetics. This central courtyard functions as a dining room. The other rooms are located around the central courtyard. The bronze dome is an addition to this stunning Neomudejar marvel.
5. Fortin de Heredia
Fortin de Heredia or Fort of Heredia is located in the downtown area of the Province of Heredia. It was built for military purposes. It was designed by Fadrique Gutiérrez, who also was the commanding officer. The structure is built in bricks and consists of three parts. The first part is the rectangular base of the structure which encompasses 7 circular windows, which were made for military ammunition. The second part is the 5 meters high circular in plan structure, having circular windows along the circumference. The third part is the 2-meter high structure which has octagonal ledges along its periphery. This fort has an architectural significance in Costa Rica. It is seen in the flag of Heredia province and is the official emblem for the same.
6. Teatro Popular Melico Salazar:
Melico Salazar theatre is one of the most historically significant theatres. It is located in San Jose. Though small in comparison with the National Theatre of Costa Rica, this monument manages to encase one’s gaze through its gorgeous European Baroque architectural style. This structure was built by Jose Fabio Garnier Ugalde. This structure has been destroyed thrice due to earthquakes since 1799. But was rebuilt and redesigned for the passion of the Ticos towards theatre and arts. The theatre currently hosts art exhibitions and plays.
7. Yellow house
Casa Amarilla or Yellow house is the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs located in San Jose. It is designed by Architect Henry. D. Whitfield in 1920.
The architecture of this place is heavily influenced by political events like the Mexican Revolution. The political situation also influenced the arts and aesthetics of the region which is reflected in the Yellow house. As the name suggests, the exterior color of the structure is yellow. It is an excellent fusion of neoclassical architecture with a neo-baroque style. The synthesis of socio influenced Spanish style and original American style termed as baroque nov Hispano, (new Spanish Baroque) is observed.
A central courtyard with other rooms located around its periphery is connected by the corridors. Volumetric symmetry is observed. Decorative baroque elements are showcased in windows and doors. It is now a heritage site in Costa Rica.
8. Edificio Knӧhr
Knӧhr building is located in Central Avenue, San Jose. This Building was originally built to function as a warehouse by a German merchant Juan Knӧhr. This building reflects the neoclassical architectural style. The significant fact about this building is its structural design. The structure is made of hot-rolled steel and Reinforced Cement concrete. This structural style and technique was recently innovated and was executed in the Knӧhr building. The aesthetic elements are influenced by the Italian style. It is declared as a historical architectural and cultural heritage of Costa Rica.
9. Edificio Corres
This the Post office building located in San Jose. It is well known for its ornamented eclecticism reflected through its architecture. Angles bearing the Coat of arms of Costa Rica functions as a centerpiece and adds beauty to the structure. The pilasters (Corinthian) justifies the beautiful eclectic style of the building. It was designed by architect Lluis Llach Llagostera in the year 1917. This Building also houses the Costa Rican Philatelic Museum.
10. Edificio Metalico
The metal building is located in San Jose. The Edificio Metalico is a sensational architectural phenomenon. The entire structure was manufactured in Belgium in 1890 and then was transported to San Jose, which was then assembled in 1896. It was a humongous feat in the architecture world and is considered an architectural marvel. It is designed by a Belgium architect Charles Tyrian, who designed it using iron and metal as the main building material. The use of iron and metal and the pre-cast technique of construction signified the architectural technology and innovation of that period. It now serves as a headquarters to one of the oldest schools in Costa Rica.
11. Las Ruinas de la Parroquia
The ruins of the Parish are located in Cartago. This place is famous for its eerie and haunted reputation as stated in folklore. The ruins consisted of a series of churches.
These Romanesque churches were destroyed subsequently by earthquakes twice. Currently one can spot a staircase and the exterior walls. Even though in Skelton this place serves as a wonderful architectural experience and picturesque location, attracting a lot of tourists.
12. Andaz Hotel
Costa Rica not only marvels us with its rich pre-Columbian historical architecture but also dazzles with some of the most interesting contemporary structures. Andaz hotel of Costa Rica is one of the finest examples of contemporary architecture. The hotel is designed by Zürcher Arquitectos. The design is a harmonious balance between modern amenities and a humble Costa Rican essence. The materials used are all locally available which facilitated the designers to capture the vibe of Costa Rica.
Natural ventilation and the ocean view was given the highest priority. One can also observe local artifacts in the hotel. The genius design of the hotel greets every visitor “Pura Vida” through its architectural elements.
13. Waterfall Cascade
Waterfall Cascade as the name suggests is a beachfront haven for the visitors. It is designed by LSD (Laboratory Sustaining Design) studios of Costa Rica. The main attraction or feature of this design is the waterfall that flows down through the pool. The water flows downwards from the pool on the first floor to the floor below. The design is minimalistic. Local materials are used for construction, mainly wood. Natural light and ventilation are provided in abundance. The concept of encompassing the tropical essence into the design via merging the outer lush green landscapes with the interior house is executed.
Treehouse is a forest retreat located near Playa Hermosa beach. It is designed by the American firm Olson Kundig architects. It is a sustainable design project encompassing passive techniques of light and ventilation. The entire project is built in locally available wood. The exterior walls are made of wooden screens. The building is three-story in height. The functions of the house are divided amongst these three storeys, resulting in optimum use of space and capturing the tropical essence. The treehouse has a rainwater harvesting system, making it a sustainable and environmentally friendly structure.
15. Community center
Community center Designed by architect Luis Diego Barahona. The design ideology for this building was to maximize the use of space within the limited economic resources. The center consists of a Library, Classrooms, and workshops. A central courtyard area acts as the axis point through which the structure resonates. Maximum natural light and ventilation are achieved by providing internal patios in the structure. A staircase is provided which acts as an amphitheater. Due to its economical constraints, it is made from durable building materials demanding low maintenance costs.