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Museo Nacional

Cuesta de Moras, San José, Costa Rica
+506 2211 5700
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National Museum of Costa Rica San Jose  Costa Rica

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Sun 9am - 4:30pm
Tue - Sat 8:30am - 4:30pm

National Museum of Costa Rica

The walls of the National Museum still bear the scars of cannonballs. The museum, formerly the Bellavista barracks, was where prisoners were jailed, in cells that can be visited by those interested in how prisons and dungeons worked. Less grim aspects of Costa Rica are explored here, too, including a complete wing on pre-Columbian history and indigenous gold; a national history section, with photos and objects dating from colonial times to independent, republican days; and an area devoted to the country’s natural setting, including a great butterfly garden. In addition to the prison, the building’s past is explored in the so-called Casas de los Comandantes—in use at the end of the 19th century and containing the era’s luxurious furnishings—as well as another scarred wall. This one is where a mace blow was struck to abolish the Costa Rican army, turning the nation into an official land of peace.