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National Monument of Guayabo


It is situated at the bottom of the Turrialba volcano, 19 km to the Northeast of the eponymous city, in the province of Cartago. It was established by the law no. 161, on August 29, 1973, and comprises an area of 217.9 hectares.
It is one of the most important and biggest archeological areas of the country. It protects archeological structures, such as roads, mounds, bridges, collecting tanks and aqueducts, among others. Furthermore, it protects patches of high evergreen forests that are typical of the pre-mountainous rainforest.

Costa Rica played, for its geographic position and structure, an important role as meeting area for different precolombian cultures.

The archeologists have shown that Costa Rica was influenced both from North- and from South America. The National Monument of Guayabo is part of the intermediate area, which includes the province of Alajuela in Costa Rica down to Colombia, Venezuela and part of Ecuador. The investigations have shown that this archeological site was already inhabited in the year 1.000 before Christ and until 1.400 after Christ.

The archeological area comprises 15 to 20 hectares, of which only a small part has been excavated. Here you will find archeological signs, such as mounds, flights of steps, roads, open and closed aqueducts, reservoir tanks for water, tombs, petroglyphs, monoliths and sculptures, which are revealing a high development in civil engineering, architecture and urban development.

The mounds are stone-made bases, generally of circular bases of different sizes. You will see them in sizes from 0,5 until up to 4,5 meters of height, with diameters of 10 to 30 meters.

The roads are made of a group of stones, used as transit roads and as part of the drainage system. There are also some roads that extend in different directions of the excavated area and which are several kilometers long.

The steps or flights of stairs are stone-based structures, built to master high grounds.

The aqueducts are closed or open channels to direct the water to a desired place.

The reservoir tanks form stone structures of rectangular shapes, which were used to store the water that had been brought to the towns through the aqueducts.

The tombs are situated in different sectors of this archeological site. Built with rounded boulders and stone slabs, box-tombs are prevalent. It is important to mention that the already discovered tombs in the National Monument of Guayabo have been robbed by tomb raiders in the past.

Concerning the artistic demonstration, the engraved petroglyphs or stones are the most abundant ones. You will find them in the whole archeological area and they feature signs even without deciphering them.

Another demonstration is the monolith that shows engraved a figure of two very characteristic Costa Rican animals, the jaguar and the lizard.

Because of all these discoveries, the archeologists deduce that this precolombian city had been inhabited by persons specialized in different fields and led by a chief. These chiefs realized their political and religious power over a huge area.

The reasons for the abandonment of the city or the extermination of this indigenous group before the Spanish conquest are unknown. There are some hypothesis, which adduce as possible reasons illnesses and war.

The vegetation that surrounds the archeological area is characteristic of the pre-mountainous rainforest, it is evergreen and with dense foliage. You will find plenty of forest species, such as the caragra, the magnolia, the cantarillo, the hiquerón, the quizarrá, the cirrí-tree, the burío and the maria cedar, covered by a great quantity of epiphyte plants, such as the bromelia and the orchid.
As for the fauna, the most common animals are for example birds, such as the toucan, the golden oriole, the trogon, the woodpecker, the momoto, the pia pia, the yigüirro and the chaco chachalaca. The predominant mammals are the amardillo, rabbits, the coyote, sloths, the tolomuco, the martilla, squirrels and coatis. There are also a lot of snakes, frogs, lizards and butterflies.

 

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