There are so many things to do in San Jose, Costa Rica and nearby that you’ll be spoiled for choice when you are planning your trip. If you enjoy sightseeing or are interested in history, the Ujarras Ruins are a must for your travel itinerary.

Ujarras is a small town situated in the picturesque Orosi Valley in the province of Cartago. Sitting on the banks of the man-made Cachi Lake, it is a town rich in authentic Costa Rican history.

What are the Ujarras Ruins?

The Ruins of Ujarras were declared a National Monument of Costa Rica in 1985. They are the site of Costa Rica’s oldest church, the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Limpia Concepcion, which was built in the Spanish colonial style.

The church was originally a retreat made of straw from around 1561, and the local Huetar people called the Virgin Mary “The Queen of the Valleys”. An adobe structure was built to replace the original from 1575. The current ruins are of a building constructed between 1681 and 1693, and it was severely damaged in 1822 by an earthquake.

In 1832, the town was relocated to what is today Paraiso, as a consequence of disease, flooding, and economic pressures.

Ujarras Legend

According to legend, an indigenous Huetar fisherman found a box with a statue of the Virgin Mary inside. It was impossible to remove it from the location, so the local indigenous villagers built the church on this site and around the image. The image was said to be responsible for many miracles performed for the villagers, including protection in 1666 when the pirates Henry Morgan and Eduard Mansvelt attacked the village. The Virgin Mary is also said to have cautioned villagers against a devastating flood.

Historically, the church was built to house a statue of the Virgin Mary that was gifted by Spanish King Philip II. Each year in April there is a pilgrimage held in honor of the Virgin Mary, carrying a statue 7km, which ends at the site of the church where mass is given before a party in the gardens.

Ujarras Today

Today, the Ujarras Ruins are surrounded by gardens and are the ideal place to explore the past and relax with a picnic. It is a beautiful and fascinating ruin which has been partially restored, and visitors can walk through the ancient church.

Nearby attractions also include the Guayabo National Monument, the town of Orosi, Cartago, Lankester Botanical Garden, and the Turrialba and Irazu Volcanoes.

Choose Costa Rica Volcanoes Today

Costa Rica Volcanoes is a local travel company dedicated to providing you with the very best experiences Costa Rica has to offer. From package holidays to day trips from San Jose, Costa Rica, including volcano tours, we offer it all to make your vacation here memorable for all the right reasons. Our Irazu Volcano Tour includes a visit to the Ujarras Ruins. Contact us today to book your trip and to learn more.