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 advocate for the fact that Costa Rica is declared as the happiest country in the 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 the colonization reflects in the culture of the country. One can observe a great interest towards pre-Columbian art, films and theatre in the residents of Costa Rica.
The culture and history is mirrored in the architecture of the republic of Costa Rica. The pre-Columbian influence, and a colourful blend of Mesoamerican, Central American and Spanish architecture is seen. These historical buildings are perfectly complimented with the new age contemporary architecture in Costa Rica. The country being one of the most favoured tourist destination, 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 which symbolizes the love for art and theatre, and is also considered as pride of Costa Rica. It is located in the national capital of San Jose. The neo-classical 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 exterior façade. The interior of the theatre does not disappoint the visitor. With the breath taking ceiling adorned with beautiful paintings and the neo-classical 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. Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles
Basilica of our Lady of the Angels, is another beautiful architecture marvel of Costa Rica. It is located in the historical town of Cartago. It was built in the year 1639. This Basilica is an exquisite example of classic Byzantine style of architecture. The structural elements like columns (Corinthian) of the basilica represents the beautiful ornated 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 beautifies the exterior of the basilica. This monument was destroyed in an earthquake soon after it was built. It was rebuild by Architect Lluis Llach Llagostera in the year 1924. The basilica being one of the most visited tourist attraction 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 architecture 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 showcases 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 catches 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 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. 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 ammunitions. The second part is the 5 meter high circular in plan structure, having circular windows along the circumference. 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 theatre. It is located in San Jose. Though small in comparison with the National Theatre of Costa Rica, this monument manages to encase ones gaze through its gorgeous European Baroque architectural style. This structure was built by Jose Fabio Garnier Ugalde. This structure has been destroyed thrice dur 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 Ministry of Foreign Affairs located in San Jose. It is designed by Architect Henry. D. Whitfield in the year 1920.
The architecture of this place is heavily influenced by the 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 colour of the structure is yellow. It is an excellent fusion of neoclassical architecture with 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 aesthetical 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 centrepiece 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 Costa Rican Philatelic Museum.
10. Edificio Metallico
The metal building is located in San Jose. The Edificio Metallico 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 humungous feat in the architecture world, and is considered as 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 pre-cast technique of construction signified the architectural technology and innovation of that period. It now serves as a headquarter to one of the oldest school in Costa Rica.
11. Las Ruinas de la Parroquia
The ruins of the Parish is located in Cartago. This place is famous for its eerie and haunted reputation as stated in a folklore. The ruins consisted of series of churches.
This 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 harmonious balance between modern amenities and humble Costa Rican essence. The material used are all locally available which facilitated the designers to capture the vibe of Costa Rica.
Natural ventilation and 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 first floor to the floor below. The design is minimalistic. Local materials are used for construction, mainly wood. Natural light and ventilation is provided in abundance. Concept of encompassing the tropical essence into the design via merging the outer lush green landscapes with 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 storey 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 environment friendly structure.
15. Community center
Community center Designed by architect Luis Diego Barahona. The design ideology for this building was to maximising the use of space within the limited economical 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 is achieved by providing internal patios in the structure. A staircase is provided which acts as a amphitheatre. Due to its economical constraints it is made from durable building materials demanding low maintenance cost.