Christopher Columbus was one of the first to adore the golden ornaments adorning the Indians he encountered in Costa Rica. From then one, many conquistadors have attempted to dig up the southern areas of this Atlantic coast in pursuit of golden treasures.
Thankfully today, gold artifacts are now open for the public to see in Costa Rica’s famed Gold Museum.
The Gold Museum is situated 12 metres underneath the Plaza de la Cultura in downtown San Jose that houses mainly Pre-Columbian gold artifacts. With these pieces reflecting the early culture and rich history of the indigenous Costa Ricans, this is one of the top tourist attractions in the country.
The Gold Museum’s Three-Story Journey
The Gold Museum consists of three levels, each showcasing various gold exhibitions as well as displays depicting the lives of Native Costa Ricans.
Guests will be taken first into the introductory area where the cultural evolution of the Pre-Columbian period is shown. Array of more handcrafted and intricate golden pieces await them once they get to the second level arching all the way down to the third.
The long spiral staircase which connects all three levels is another sight to marvel at. Also, not everything that glitters in the Gold Museum is gold. There are other non-golden Costa Rican relics significant to the country’s history and culture exhibited inside the underground museum.
A small theatre which allows guests to watch a repeating re-enactment and how these golden objects were created by the locals is as well situated inside the museum.
An Estimate of 1,600 Golden Pieces Collected from 500 AD-1500 AD
The Gold Museum is home to multitudes of bits and pieces of gold. From coins to jewelry to ritual objects and figurines, 20, 000 troy ounces of gold are found in these artifacts– each carefully lighted, displayed and serving its individual purpose.
Local animals and what seemed to be uniquely crafted creatures are evident in the museum. Birds and eagles are two of the prominent figurines found in this area of the show. They are believed to be a vital part of the rituals and religious practices of the indigenous Costa Ricans.
Jewelries made of gold are also displayed in varying unique cases. These adornments were thought to signify the difference between classes among the early peoples of Costa Rica. Moreover, primitive tools and utensils can also be seen in the myriads of gold found in this museum which are descriptive of the early ways of living and survival of these people.
Finding, Creating and Using Gold
The Gold Museum doesn’t simply house the almost countless collections of Pre-Columbian gold artifacts. It also brings back to life the natives’ co-existence with gold and its valued significance in their everyday living.
Gold was believed to be found by these indigenous people in rivers and shores of the southern area of Costa Rica. Because of this, they developed a remarkable technique called metallurgy in which they mold gold and put it together, shaping it into various figures in varying sizes. This technique paved the way for these elaborate golden designs to be born.
A “Rich Coast”–in More Ways than One
Costa Rica promises guests a prosperous journey of learning and experiencing Costa Rican culture through the Gold Museum. Going beyond its literal translation of “rich coast”, Costa Rica’s Museo Del Oro stands as a representation of the precious history of this Latin American country and how it has molded itself into its own piece of gold today.
The Gold Museum is located underneath the Plaza de la Cultura in downtown San Jose. It’s not hard to miss as you will find yourself in the town square of the capital of Costa Rica. This museum is also close to the National Theater and Jade Museum.
|Places to Stay Near the Gold Museum