The center of the city of Barva is surrounded by houses that were built in the XIX century, which are made of adobe and have roof tiles and thick walls. This city was conquered by Spain in 1561.
In this area of architectural beauty, you can find the Municipal Building and the house of Mr. Cleto Gonzalez Viquez (a historical relic), who was Costa Rica’s president in two different periods, and received the title of Well-Deserving of the Country.
In this city you can also find a beautiful church that is more than 116 years old. Its walls are made of quicklime and rock fragments, displaying a neoclassical style. The church of Barva of Heredia was declared National Heritage.
Between 1568 and 1575, the first church of Barva was built over a native cemetery in honor to Saint Bartholomew. It was until 1867 that the construction of the actual temple began, and later ended in 1891.
In the north side of the church, next to the rectory, there’s the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. The image of saint Bernardette Soubirous is placed in a niche in the middle of a drinking fountain, at a medium height. It was opened in March 14th, 1943.
The Reverend Horacio Morales built this church over an old rock breaker. A plaque was placed here in order to show him gratitude for the temple’s construction.
Among the celebrations in this city, there is the National Masquerade Fair, held in the last week of March. Many different designs from all around the country participate in this activity. There are also contests of “cimarrona” bands and masquerade dances. Cimarronas are bands made up of self-taught musicians that play the trumpet, saxophone, cymbals and drums, very popular in Costa Rica.
These activities and other important ones are celebrated in the Barva Central Park. This park was opened in May 4th, 1940, and has a sculpture of Mr. Cleto Gonzalez Viquez. The sculpture is made of bronze and was created by the artist Luis Feron in the workshops at the Pacific Electric Railway.
Both the Central Park and the church of Barva have been declared National Monuments.
Also, every August 24th, the party of the apostle Saint Bartholomew is celebrated, who is the town’s patron saint. During this day many religious and cultural activities are performed, as well as sports.
The masquerades are also celebrated, which is a religious custom that uses characters such as the Devil or the Skull, and also other masks of celebrities and cartoons. In the meantime the masked people walk through the parade, you can listen to the cimarrona playing its many rhythms.
You can find food stands for 10 days in the rectory, carousels and bingos, and people selling masks and souvenirs that you can purchase. There’s also a horse parade and cimarronas playing music.
A curious fact is that the people wearing masks chase the visitors with pigs’ and cows’ bladders that are previously sun dried. In other communities they use plants known as “chilillos” (whips) or masks instead of bladders.
Another of its interesting sites is the Popular Culture Museum, located in an old adobe house built in the late 1880’s. This house used to be part of a coffee farm property of the parents of Alfredo Gonzalez Flores, ex-president of Costa Rica.
It is decorated in the inside and outside with all types of objects of household use, furniture and also working tools that were common in the late XIX century and early XX century.
The museum was established in 1994 with the help of the Universidad Nacional (National University). There are guided tours, conferences, workshops, demonstrations and temporary exhibitions for the recreation, learning and preservation of the Costa Rican historical heritage.
Also, there are offices of the Instituto del Cafe de Costa Rica (ICAFE, Costa Rican Coffee Institute), which promotes the national coffee industry.
The idea is to encourage an equal model among the members of this sector.
Between November and January, the coffee is picked up; job that serves as economical support to a lot of families. Sugar cane cultivation is another important activity (since the mid XX century), as well as the exportation of flowers and ferns, which are high-demand products.
Another important industry in Barva is the high quality handcrafting: the making of different types of baskets and lamps has served as a significant economical aid in the cities of Barva and San Pablo. In this zone, livestock activities are also performed for cow milk production.
This city is also home to the Cultural Association of the Symphonic Band of Barva, a project that began in 1981 along with the Universidad Nacional.
This band has performed all around the country, from small towns to the Presidential House and the Melico Salazar Theater.
They have also traveled to Europe twice where they received very good reviews. This band has been declared of Cultural Interest and “Pride of Barva”.
There’s a project that recently started, which aims to transform Barva into some type of outdoor museum, decorated by many sculptures. Currently there are more than 20 sculptures that have been created in the International Sculpture Symposium.
During this symposium that lasts for 2 weeks, the artists will create their art pieces based on models they previously designed, while the audience watches. Sculptures like “El Alquimista” (“The Alchemist”) of the Costa Rican artist Efrain Romero are placed in the Central Park.
Barva and Birri are located at the base of the inactive Barva Volcano. It has a lagoon of fluvial origin that is 70 meters wide and 8 meters deep. This territory is surrounded by vegetation that has been able to regenerate, forming what resembles a green carpet, odd scenery in volcanic structures.
The volcano and the Cerro Zurqui are part of the Braulio Carrillo National Park, and it is considered Biosphere’s Reserve by the UNESCO. The forest balances the amounts of carbon dioxide and oxygen for the Pacific and Atlantic slopes, and it also protects important water sources.
From the towns of Barva and Birri you can arrange tours to the different tourist attractions of the zone.
Accommodations and gastronomy
The region of Barva and Birri has hotels with plenty of facilities, like jacuzzis, wireless Internet, tennis courts, gyms and bookstores, among others. This place is perfect for special events such as weddings.
There are also cottages with panoramic views of San Jose that are definitely breathtaking. You can also look for more luxurious options, like private villas or furnished and equipped apartments. There are also karaoke places where you can sing and have fun.
These hotels organize tours to the volcanoes, canopy tours, and rafting and sportfishing tours as well. They also offer transportation from and to the Juan Santamaria International Airport.
The restaurants offer traditional Italian dishes, a variety of pasta, clay oven-baked pizza, and different meat and seafood meals.
In the city of Barva there are restaurants in old adobe houses that offer Costa Rican typical dishes. Some restaurants offer international traditional dishes as well as Costa Rican typical dishes, all of them prepared in wood stoves.
There are no fast food chain restaurants.