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Called the “cradle of Costa Rican handicrafts,” both international tourists and locals alike visit Sarchi for its more than 200 stores and small family-operated woodworking and leather workshops. It is a perfect Central Valley day tour to combine with the Poás Volcano, a coffee tour, or the Juan Castro Blanco National Park. Sarchi is also an excellent stop on the way to Volcano Arenal.
Located on the slopes of Costa Rica’s Central Mountain Range at the eastern edge of the Central Valley, the quaint country town of Sarchi is 27 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital city of Alajuela, and 46 kilometers from the nation’s capital city of San Jose. The route to get to Sarchi passes through picturesque countryside and some of the largest coffee and sugarcane plantations in Costa Rica.
As Costa Rica’s most well-known crafts center, Sarchi is famous for its colorfully painted oxcarts and oxen yokes – national symbols of Costa Rican folklore and traditions. The tradition of painting and decorating oxcarts started in the early 20th century. Back in the day, wooden carts pulled by a pair of oxen were the main mode of transportation in the mountainous country, especially to transport coffee beans to markets. Originally each region of Costa Rica had its own particular oxcart design, which identified a driver’s origin by the painted patterns on his cart’s wheels. Today, oxcarts still play a principal role in parades and religious celebrations.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization honored Costa Rica’s vibrantly painted oxcarts in 2005 for their contribution to the heritage of humanity. You can see the “World’s Largest Oxcart” – built in 2006 to get the town’s name into The Guinness Book of World Records – in the Central Park in front of the main church.
Travelers come to Sarchi to purchase elegantly crafted wood furniture and souvenirs made from tropical hardwoods, leather, textiles, natural papers, and ceramics.
Planning to travel to Costa Rica? Travel agency Team CRT creates unforgettable Costa Rica vacation itineraries and packages. Visit the lovely town of Sarchi on one of their day tours. Team CRT arranges nature tours, beach vacations, adventure tours, family vacations, relaxation vacations, honeymoons and golf vacations.