Once you have escaped the traffic jams of San Jose and are happily cruising along on the Autopista General Caiias, continue in the direction of Alajuela. The exit for Heredia is just before the airport. Heredia, considered a major city by its inhabitants, is just 10 kilometers away.

Like most Costa Rican cities, Heredia was laid out in a grid pattern and included a central park, Parque Central, which forms the heart of the city. To the east is the imposing Iglesia de la Inmaculada Conception (Church of the Immaculate Conception), which took more than 30 years to build and was only completed in 1797. Its massive walls and the heavy four-sided towers that flank the main entrance create a powerful facade. Thanks to its massive construction, it is one of the few buildings in the highlands to have survived the many earthquakes that have plagued the region. Now it has been justly accorded the honor of being named a national monument.

The Casa de la Cultura, a large building dating from the turn of the century, is on the northeast side of the Parque Central. Concerts and plays are held in its glass-roofed atrium. El Fortin, the ruin of a colonial fort, is right next door. It has also been raised to the status of a historic site. A pavilion, called the Pafacio Municipal, has been built in the middle of the ruin. Occasional performances by visiting cultural groups are held there on a regular basis. The area around the Parque Central also features a neoclassical building from 1915. Behind the beautiful ornate facade, which many travelers stop to admire, is the post office (correos).

The city was founded in 1706 and was first known by its Huetar Indian name, Cubujuqui. The white settlers who moved there were not content to keep this Indian name for long and soon changed it to Heredia in honor of Fernandez de Heredia, the president of them neighboring colony in Guatemala. In the 18th century some 30,000 people lived in Heredia, and when its suburbs were included the new city numbered an impressive 70,000 inhabitants.

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