Weaving its way north up the hill from the Parque España then down to the Río Torres, the historic Barrio Amón leads into another old district, Otoya. Lined with stately buildings and the former homes of the Costa Rican coffee gentry, these two neighbourhoods are among the most attractive in San José. After decades of neglect they are currently undergoing something of a rediscovery by hoteliers and café and restaurant owners, though the area remains seedy in parts – take care at night. Established in the late 1890s, Amón is home to fine examples of “neo-Victorian” tropical architecture, with low-slung wooden houses ringed by wide verandas and iron railings. Striking examples include the turreted Castillo del Moro (C 3, at Av 13), a whimsical Mudéjar structure built in 1930 (it’s privately owned), and the mint-green former Casa Verde de Amón hotel (at C 7, at Av 9), built around 1910 and recently restored by Tecnológico de Costa Rica (the Costa Rica Institute of Technology).
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The headquarters of the Alianza Francesa (Alliance Française) in San José since 1965, this artfully restored Neoclassical building is a prefabricated metal structure dating from 1890. Inside you’ll find Le Café (serving coffee and snacks) and temporary art exhibitions.
Top image: Parque España, San Jose, Costa Rica © Fredy Estuardo Maldonado/Shutterstock