Central Valley: Places to Explore

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Heredia

The lively city of Heredia, capital of the important coffee province of the same name, contains some of the country's best-preserved colonial structures along with a contrasting, youthful buzz provided by a concentration of young people attending the National University (UNA) and century-old colegios (high schools) scattered around the town. Heredia name is twofold: it's known as the City of Flowers, referring to a leading founding family named Flores. Flores also refers to beautiful women, of which Heredia is known for. Founded in 1706, the city bears witness to how difficult preservation can be in an earthquake-prone country; most of its colonial structures have been destroyed by the tremors and tropical climate—not to mention modernization. Still, the city and neighboring towns retain a certain historic feel, with old adobe buildings scattered amid the concrete structures. Nearby Barva is also notable for its colonial central square and venerable adobe structures. From Heredia, scenic mountain roads climb northeast, passing through the pleasant, high-altitude coffee towns of San Rafael and San Isidro, each centered by a notable, Tico-style Gothic church and a pleasant central park.

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