Located in the center of Costa Rica, Cartago is the capital of the Cartago province and is situated less than 20 miles from the capital city of San Jose. There are approximately 156,000 people living within the 58.95 square miles of the city and over 413,000 in the metropolitan area. Cartago is one of the oldest cities in Costa Rica.
Cartago’s economy is based around agriculture, mainly onions, potatoes and orchids, in the rural areas and tourist destinations throughout. Many of those living in Cartago commute to work in the surrounding metropolitan areas, especially in San Jose to the west. There are a few international companies and Costa Rican companies located in Cartago’s industrial park. The major institution for higher education in Cartago is the Costa Rica Institute of Technology, which is known as one of the most prestigious and important colleges in the country.
As one of the oldest cities in Costa Rica, history and religion play a major role in its culture. There are ruins dating back hundreds of years such as the Santiago Apóstol (St. James) Parish Ruins encompassing several churches needing constant repairs since their establishment in 1575 due to earthquakes. The Basílica de Nuestra Senora de los Ángeles is a beautiful church dating back to the 17th century and is visited by over 2.5 million annually in August during the feast day of the Virgin of the Angels.
Cartago was established in 1563 by Coronado and is considered the first successful establishment in Costa Rica. Cartago remained the capital until 1824 when it was moved to San Jose.
You’ll find the Central Market, which is busiest on Thursday and Sunday, the Irazu Volcano, and the Ruins of Santiago Apostle Church in Cartago.
Cartago is full of tropical rainforests and located in the shadow of two volcanos: Irazu and Turrialba. Cartago’s weather is fairly consistent all year long with average highs in the mid-to-upper 70’s. Lows average in the 50’s year-round as well. Although summer rains are consistent, the rainiest month in Cartago is December in which it receives nearly 7 inches of rainfall out of the approximately 55 inches of annual rainfall.
Real estate and rentals are generally less expensive in Cartago than in other parts of Costa Rica. As an affordable city with beautiful scenery and easy access to San Jose, Cartago is part of the expanding urban area of the Central Valley.
Cartago increasingly is becoming the ideal home to those seeking life away from the major city while still being able to take advantage of public transportation to make it into San Jose with ease. While still predominately agricultural, Cartago is becoming more industrial and commercial.