Fodor's Expert Review Centro Nacional de la Cultura
Rather than tear it down, the Ministry of Culture converted the sloped-surface, double-block 1853 Fábrica Nacional de Licores (National Liquor Factory) into this 14,000-square-meter (150,694-square-foot) cultural center, with government offices, two theaters, and a museum. It might seem strange that the liquor factory was state run, but the Costa Rican government also owns the light and water utility, phone company, Internet service provider, as well as banking, insurance, and hospital sectors. The National Liquor Factory was housed here until 1981, when it moved to a modern facility in the Central Valley. The stone-block storage depot next to the water towers at the southeast side of the complex became the Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo. A stone gate and sundial grace the entrance nearest the museum. The complex sits amid government offices, at the point where downtown's northern reaches fade into the more residential neighborhood of Barrio Otoya.