Guayabo National Monument, set on the jungle-rich slopes of the Turrialba Volcano, protects one of Costa Rica’s most important archaeological sites, Guayabo de Turrialba. The historic ruins make up the largest pre-Columbian city ever discovered in Costa Rica.
Guayabo National Monument is located northwest of the city of Turrialba, in the District of Santa Teresita in the canton of Turrialba, province of Cartago. It protects the Guayabo de Turrialba archeological site. The site is of great archeological and cultural importance even though only a very small portion of the city has been uncovered and studied.
Within its 233 ha (575 acres), this wilderness area protects a remnant of pre-montane evergreen rain forest, in a range between 3,248 feet (990 m) altitudinal and 4,265 feet (1,300 m) above sea level and average temperature reaches 75°F (24°C).
Set on the jungle-rich slopes of the Turrialba Volcano the site is one of Costa Rica’s most important archaeological sites. The Guayabo site belongs to the cultural region called Intermedia Area, ranging from Alajuela in Costa Rica to the plains of the Orinoco River in Venezuela and northern Ecuador.
Approximately 20 ha (50 acres) of protected area include the archaeological site, which consists of a set of pre-Columbian architectural structures. The site contains a wide array of stone paved streets, round platforms which were the base for wooden structures, aqueducts, ponds, carved stone designs and drawings of animals. The historic ruins make up the largest pre-Columbian city ever discovered in Costa Rica, believed to have been home to nearly 10,000 people during its prime around AD 800.
Inhabited as early as 1000 BC, archaeologists are still unclear why this thriving city was mysteriously abandoned around 1400 AD. The economy of this indigenous group was based on agriculture, hunting and fishing. The pottery and gold artifacts that were unearthed from here are now on display at the National Museum in San Jose.