Costa Rica // San José //

Plaza de la Democracía

A block southwest of the Parque Nacional sits the concrete Plaza de la Democracía, yet another of the city’s soulless squares which is just one aesthetic notch up from a paved car park. Constructed in 1989 to mark President Oscar Arias’ key involvement in the Central American Peace Plan, this expanse of terraced concrete slopes up towards a fountain. At its western end is a row of artisans’ stalls selling hammocks, thick Ecuadorian sweaters, leather bracelets and jewellery. You can also buy Guatemalan textiles and decorative molas (patchwork textiles in vibrant colours) made by the Kuna people of Panamá, though at steeper prices than elsewhere in Central America. Other stalls sell T-shirts and wooden crafts and trinkets. The traders are friendly and won’t pressure you; a bit of gentle bargaining is a must.