San Jose Sights

In San José some streets have names, but no one seems to know or use them. Streets in the center of the capital are laid out in a grid, with avenidas (avenues) running east and west, and calles (streets) north and south. Odd-number avenues increase in number north of Avenida Central; even-number avenues, south. Streets east of Calle Central have odd numbers; those to the west are

even. Locals rarely use the numbers, however.

Costa Ricans rely instead on a charming and exasperating system of designating addresses by the distance from landmarks, as in "100 meters north and 50 meters west of the school." Another quirk: "100 meters" always refers to one city block, regardless of how long it actually is. Likewise, "200 meters" is two blocks, and so on. (As you can imagine, getting a pizza delivered here is quite a challenge.)

Historically, the reference point was the church, but these days it might be a bar, a Taco Bell, or even a quirky landmark: the eastern suburb of San Pedro uses the higuerón, a prominent fig tree. The city has embarked on an ambitious project to name all its streets once and for all. Even after it’s completed, it's improbable that anybody will know or use the names. Your best bet is to follow the time-honored practice of ir y preguntar (keep walking and keep asking).

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Downtown 23

North and East of Downtown 3

West of Downtown 2

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Arts/ Performance Venue 6

Building/ Architectural Site 1

Government Building 1

Industrial Site/ Mill/ Factory 1

Market/ Bazaar 1

Memorial/ Monument/ Tomb 3

Military Site 2

Museum/ Gallery 7

Neighborhood/ Street 1

Park/ Playground 4

Plaza/ Square/ Piazza 5

Religious Building/ Site/ Shrine 1

Sports Venue 1

Store/ Shop/ Mall 1

Zoo/ Aquarium 1

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San Jose Sights

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Estatua de John Lennon

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

A whimsical statue of John Lennon sits on a small, slightly out-of-the-way plaza across from La Soledad church. Sculptor José Ramón...

Parque Central

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

At the city's nucleus, the tree-shaded Central Park is more plaza than park. A life-size bronze statue of a street sweeper ( El Barrendero...

Plaza de la Cultura

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

The crowds of people, vendors, and street entertainers at the plaza—it's a favored spot for marimba bands, clowns, jugglers, and colorfully...

Plaza de la Democracia

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

President Oscar Arias built this terraced space west of the Museo Nacional to mark 100 years of democracy and to receive dignitaries...

Plaza del Banco Central

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

A widening of Avenida Central, this plaza is popular with hawkers, money changers, and retired men, and can be a good place to get a...

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