Parque Nacional, the largest and most impressive of the city’s central parks, graces a hill that rises eastward between Calles 15/19 and Avenidas 1/3. At the park’s center is the massive Monumento Nacional (National Monument), one of several statues commemorating the War of 1856. The statue depicts the spirits of the Central American nations defeating the American adventurer William Walker. The monument was made in the Rodin studios, in paris. Note: The park is not safe at night.
On the north side of the square, note the impressive modernist Biblioteca Nacional (tel. 506/2257-4814, www.abinia.org/costarica ), built in 1971. Immediately northeast of the park, the ornate Antiguo Estación Ferrocarril was built in 1907 as the Atlantic Railway Station.
Today it is slowly going to ruin, although it has been touted to become a reception hall for a new Casa Presidencial (www.casapres.go.cr ) to house the president’s office. To the rear are vintage rolling stock and an old steam locomotive, Locomotora 59 (or Locomotora Negra), imported from Philadelphia in 1939 for the Northern Railway Company.
Immediately to the northeast, the huge redbrick building houses the Centro de las Artes y Tecnología La Aduana, a former customs building (and later the national mint), converted into a 15,000-square-meter exhibition and performing-arts space.