On the slopes of the Turrialba Volcano lies the most important archaeological site in all of Costa Rica–the Guayabo National Monument. Other than the most important, it is the largest archaeological site stretching to an entirety of about 218 hectares.
Believed to be home of the Pre-Columbian people, this relic site was first discovered in the 1800’s and was first excavated in the year 1882. From then on, various excavations for both private and public collections have been made and its first complete collection was exhibited during the Historic American Expo in Madrid in the year 1892.
What is known about Guayabo’s Early Inhabitants?
Until now, only bits of information coming from the relics are discovered in the site. Tombs are seen everywhere in the site. It is speculated that religion and ritual practices are a vital part of the Pre-Columbian inhabitants of the area. Outstanding craftsmanship is found in the intricate pieces of tools, jewelries among others. It seems to signify that power and influence are present in the long-gone community.
One mystery the site of Guayabo National Monument holds is that the community who lived there seemed to have disappeared just before the Spanish colonizers came. War, starvation and even wide-spread diseases are believed to be the speculated causes of this extinction.
To this moment, majority of the land area is still left unexplored as there is much to see and much more to dig into.
What’s Inside the Guayabo National Monument?
Advanced civil engineering is very evident once you set foot in this archaeological site. Elaborate networks of aqueducts for water to pass through and to be drank still work up to this day. Conical houses built of wood and circular buildings have been unburied in this site, depicting such extensive urban planning of what is seemingly a very united community.
Petroglyphs are also found everywhere. Others are very peculiar in appearance and design but its intricacy is very evident. Some are in shapes of lizards, giant cants and birds–common species found in Costa Rica until now. The petroglyph just by the entrance of the Guayabo National Monument particularly stands out because it seems to protect the entire site from mal-intentioned visitors and the like.
More than the Relics and Artifacts
Apart from the fascinating historical objects found on-site, wildlife and vegetation is present but not as prosperous and vast compared to other Costa Rican areas. Because of the site’s poor extension, the fauna is rare and not so many species of trees and plants can be found. Not to be entirely dismayed, rainbow-beaked toucans, white-nosed Coatis and the Montezuma Oropendola can sometimes be spotted lurking around the area.
Relic enthusiasts can indulge in the richness, rarity and mystery of the Guayabo National Monument. If you’re interested in exploring the archaeological side of Costa Rica, this extraordinary site is just for you.
|Getting to Guayabo National Monument
One way of getting there is to take the highway from San Jose to Cartago, driving on through Cervantes, Turrialba and finally, Santa Teresita. Signs and directions leading to Guayabo National Monumnet are very visible once you’re in the area.