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ALAJUELA

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If the taste for things lies in variety - as an old saying goes - Alajuela would be a delicious place. Not only because of the flavour of its famous mangos, but, especially for its diversity of attractions, urban and rural, that form an extensive range of possibilities that open to satisfy the appetite for knowledge and adventures of the travellers.

The tourist's options are multiple, so many in fact, that you will have the sensation that your vacation time is too short. Alajuela, the second city of Costa Rica, is a quiet and peaceful place surrounded by vivid and surprising protected natural areas, the perfect stage for excursions, hiking and exciting photographic safaris.

If you are visiting the city of Alajuela or one of its natural areas, don't forget to visit the following places:

In the City

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    Main Plaza and the Cathedral: Choose to feel the beat of the city of Alajuela, or to enter a temple of faith and prayer. Take your time while sitting on a stone bench watching the people go through the Plaza or whisper a prayer in an inspiring temple that makes you think of heaven.
    Visiting the Main Plaza of Alajuela, you will discover the quiet restlessness of the city and the always smiling faces of the people; you will enjoy the protective shadows of the exotic trees that "watch" the place; or you can delight in the imposing architecture of the Cathedral, a House of God built in 1854.
    This is probably the best way to start your tour in the unforgettable city of Alajuela.

    The Cultural Historic Museum Juan Santamaria: In the rooms of this museum the memory of the brave people of Costa Rica is honoured. In the famous battle of Santa Rosa (1856) the Costa Ricans defeated the pirates commandeered by the North American William Walker.
    The museum takes on its name from that of a young soldier, Juan Santamaria, who in the battle of Rivas, on April 11th, 1856, sacrificed his life by setting fire to a building known as the "Meson de Guerra", which was in the hands of the pirates. With his courageous action he forced the invaders to abandon not only the refuge, but also the battlefield.
    In its rooms, formerly the Old General Quarters, you can find paintings, portraits, documents, cannons, fire arms, bullets and sables, remembrances from the Battle of Rivas.
    The museum is located on the Tercera Avenue, between the streets of Central and Segunda, one block north of the Central Park. You can visit it from Tuesday through Saturday from 8:00 to 16:30. Entrance is free.

    Park for the Conservation of the Wild Life Bird Zoo: This is one of the most modern zoos in Latin-American. Its installations give shelter to 103 bird species, 21 mammals, 13 of reptiles and 4 species of exotic fish (many of them in complete liberty). The park also has an exuberant botanical garden.
    The park is located in Dulce Nombre de la Garita, 2.5 kilometres from the International Airport Juan Santa Maria. It is open every day of the week from 9:00 to 17:00 hours. Entry costs 9 dollars.

    La Paz Waterfall Gardens: These gardens are a big private park located inside a rain forest. It has 3 and a half kilometres of trails, surrounded by bushes, trees and native flowers, following the course of the La Paz River, on the occidental slope of the Pos volcano.
    Its main attractions are the waterfalls Encantada, Escondida, La Paz, Templo and Magia Blanca (the largest of the waterfalls, with a height of 40 meters, it has an observation platform to take it in all its majestic beauty), a garden of hummingbirds with more than 20 species of them, an orchid garden and the largest observatory of butterflies in the world.
    This garden was inaugurated in 2001. It is located 6 kilometres north of Carablanca, on the road to San Miguel, 20 minutes away from the Pos volcano and one hour from the International Airport Juan Santamaria.
    It is open every day from 8:30 to 16:40 hours. Entry costs 20 dollars.

    The Butterfly Farm (La Finca de las Mariposas): This is the only place in the world where a guided tour allows you to observe the butterflies in their different life cycles.
    During the tour, the traveller will receive information about the anatomy and physiology of the butterflies in all of their life cycles, about their natural predators, their mechanism of defence and lodging plants, among other information.
    The tour takes 2 hours. It starts with a film about butterflies, then a visit to the exporting offices, the butterfly garden and the breeding lab.
    The farm was created in 1990 by Joris Brinckerhoff (a volunteer of the Peace Corps) and his wife Maria Sabido. The farm is located in the district of La Guacima. It can be visited every day from 9:00 to 17:00 hours.

    National Refuge for the Wild Life Laguna Las Camelias: The reserve was created in 1994 to protect the wetlands and other places used by an important variety of wild species, for food, refuge and reproduction.
    This protected area of 68 hectares, houses 248 species of birds, 30 species of amphibious and reptiles, and around 150 species of plants. It is located in Upala and entry costs 6 dollars.

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