Last Updated: Apr 15, 2012
Summary: Costa Rica's handmade furniture and arts and crafts capital; famed for intricately painted oxcarts.
Landscape: City, Mountains
Attractions: Joaquin Chaverri Oxcart Factory
Caters to: Culture Aficionados, Day Trippers, Independent Travelers
Located just north of Grecia in the fertile Central Valley, Sarchi is the arts and crafts capital of the country, less than an hour’s drive from San Jose or Alajuela.
Location: 29 miles from San Jose; 3 miles north of Grecia
Average Temperature: 63 to 75°F
Altitude: 3,280 feet above sea level
An important part of Costa Rican history, the oxcart was used in the mid-nineteenth century to transport coffee and other goods from the Central Valley to the port cities of Puntarenas and Limon. For many rural families, oxcarts, locally known as carretas, were their only means of transportation. A well-built, elaborately decorated oxcart was something of a status symbol in those days.
Sarchi is still celebrated for its beautiful oxcarts, and some of the most elaborate are made in two factories in town. The town is also heralded for its many furniture shops that feature both modern and rustic pieces. Patrons can custom-order certain designs and upholsteries and many of the larger stores will ship furniture internationally. After a morning of shopping, visitors can relax in the town's central park which has an over-sized red oxcart and is flanked by a pretty Catholic church.
Sarchi is spread out over several miles and lacks a central commercial area. More than 200 artisan workshops are scattered about and are most easily accessed by car. Whether souvenir shopping at the Plaza Artesenia or enjoying a typical meal in one of the small sodas in town, Sarchi makes for a pleasant day trip.
From San Jose, public buses depart for Sarchi at 12:15 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6:10 p.m.; the trip lasts one hour and 40 minutes. Departs from the intersection of Calle 18 and Avenidas 5/7. 2258-2004. Alternatively, tourists can arrange transportation with one of many tour companies that offer round-trip shuttle service to Sarchi and several other Central Valley attractions as part of combo day trips.
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