Alajuela’s main church, the Catedral de Alajuela (Alajuela Cathedral; (tel) 2441-4665) is a large, relatively ornate Catholic church, with a striking white-washed exterior, ceiling frescos, and a gold-leaf painted interior dome. Mass is held Monday to Friday at 9am and 5pm; Saturday at 9am and 7pm; and Sunday at 9 and 11am and 5 and 7pm.

The Museo Historico Cultural Juan Santamaría (Juan Santamaría Museum of Cultural History) ★, Avenida 3 between calles Central and 2 ((tel) 2441-4775;, commemorates Costa Rica’s national hero, Juan Santamaría, who gave his life defending the country against a mercenary army led by William Walker, a U.S. citizen who invaded Costa Rica in 1856, attempting to set up a slave state. Housed in a sprawling two-story downtown building with a large central courtyard, the museum features permanent exhibits about Santamaría and Walker’s filibuster exploits, as well as temporary expositions, and evening concerts and theater performances. The museum is open Tues through Sun from 9am to 5pm; admission is free.


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