Recently, my family and I had opportunity to visit the most important archeological site in Costa Rica. Guayabo National Monument is located in the Central Volcanic Conservation Area in the Province of Cartago. The site is placed in a beautiful forest at the southern part of the Turrialba Volcano. It covers an area of around 218 hectares, but only a small part has been excavated. It was declared National Monument in 1973 to preserve its archeological treasures.
Guayabo shows us the great development of civil engineering and architecture of our ancient civilizations. Archeologist believe that its main occupation was about 800 AD with a number of habitants of approximately 10,000 people. It is presumed they abandoned the site by 1400 AD; the reason for the site’s vacancy is not yet clear.
It was certainly an important cultural, political and religious center of our native inhabitants; however there are no specific details and a lot of research has to be done to discover more of its wonders.
(Shown above: The Main Circular Mound)
We started the tour walking in the middle of the forest and admiring the exuberant nature; about an hour later we found tombs, stone paved streets, round platforms which were the base for wooden structures, petroglyphs, and an amazing underground aqueduct that carries the water to the small ancient village. The aqueduct is still working and we could see the catchment tanks our ancestors use to fulfill their daily needs and perform religious rituals.
(Shown above: The Aqueduct Catchment Tank)
(Shown above: Rectangular Basement)
(Shown above: Petroglyphs)
This monument is very important for its archeological value and it protects the memories of an unknown period; fortunately Costa Rican Government has secured its conservation and we hope studies will continue to know more about the history of our country. I encourage anybody visiting Costa Rica, to make some time to visit.
Written by Lisbeth Mena,
Country Director LARM Costa Rica