About our history
The idea to establish the first big hotel in the then small Costa Rica of that time arose in 1920, when the flourishing coffee exports became our main trade activity, around which the socio-cultural life of the country took place.
Those distinguished men traveled to Europe to educate themselves and commercialize the valuable product on which our economy was sustained. Inspired by the beauty of the Opera House in Paris, they promoted the opening of our National Theater in 1897, a replica of the magnificent French building in the quiet city of San José.
It was followed in 1930 by the opening of Gran Hotel Costa Rica, with a majestic five-story building that offers one hundred and twenty rooms, an example of beautiful neoclassic architecture, located in front of the square where the statue of the first Costa Rican President, Juan Mora Fernández, is displayed, and diagonal to the superb National Theater. It was such a significant event for the country that the Government of the Republic decided to build the roads to the Poás and IrazÃº Volcanoes to promote visits by foreign tourists.
Great and famous people who have visited our country have stayed at Gran Hotel Costa Rica, such as the U.S. Presidents Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter, and sports and movie stars, like the King Pelé, John Wayne, Cantinflas, Julio Iglesias, among others.
In the 21st century, Gran Hotel Costa Rica, together with the National Theater, Las Arcadas, the Juan Mora Fernández Square, Plaza de la Cultura Square, the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum and the beautiful surrounding buildings declared to be part of our historical patrimony, conform the cultural-historical circuit of our capital city.
Gran Hotel Costa Rica maintains its exquisite architectural style, a delicate reminiscence from the beginning of 1900, where the 21st century visitors may start touring the capital city. Just getting out of our hotel, you can get inspired by the architectural beauty of the National Theater, the Costa Rican site most visited by tourists. Inside the Theater, you will enjoy the magnificent finishes, the beautiful antique furniture, frescoes and sculptures, as well as the best concerts, operas and plays at night.
After enjoying the National Theater on the East side of Gran Hotel Costa Rica visit the underground museum located beneath the Plaza de la Cultura Square, the impressive Pre-Columbian Gold Museum of Costa Rica, which houses a large collection of more than 2000 archeological gold artifacts, an artistic and historical treasure of the indigenous groups that lived in Costa Rica.
You can enjoy the national Jade Museum located three hundred meters North of Gran Hotel Costa Rica, currently the only existing museum of pre-Columbian jade, featuring the biggest exhibit of this type of collection. And you cannot miss the former Bella Vista Fortress, currently the National Museum, located 400 meters East of Gran Hotel Costa Rica. It is an old and majestic fortress built in 1917, declared to be part of our historical patrimony, and which, after the abolishment of the army in Costa Rica, became the site of the National Museum, a museum founded in 1897. The Museum occupied various public buildings in San José, being finally settled in 1949 at the building formerly occupied by the Bella Vista Fortress. The National Museum features an exhibit of 45,000 Pre-Columbian artifacts, made of stone, as well as ceramics, colonial paintings and sculptures of sacred arts, documents of great historical value, stamps, textiles, weapons and antique furniture, among others. The National Herbarium is located at the same museum, featuring 190,000 specimens, including 60,000 insects, 8,000 Costa Rican birds, as well as rocks, fossils, mollusks and vertebrates.