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24km (15 miles) SE of San José

Cartago is the original capital of Costa Rica. Founded in 1563, it was Costa Rica’s first city—and was, in fact, the only city for almost 150 years. Irazú Volcano rises up from the edge of town, and although it’s quiet these days, it has not always been so peaceful. Earthquakes have damaged Cartago repeatedly over the years, so today few of the old colonial buildings remain. In the center of the city, a public park winds through the ruins of a large church destroyed in a 1910 earthquake, before it could be finished.