Guayabo National Monument: An unsolved mystery

November 5, 2019

A mystery thousands of years old awaits its discovery in the Central Valley of Costa Rica. The Guayabo National Monument, just north of the city of Turrialba, is located on the lush hillside of the active Turrialba Volcano. Opportunities to explore the monument include guided tours, educational opportunities, camping, and the butterfly garden.

The architectural importance of Guayabo has been known since the fourteenth century, when several expeditions in the region made incredible discoveries, developing one of the first archaeological exhibitions in Costa Rica, which has been exhibited in the museum of American history in Madrid (1982).

The archaeological area comprises 15 to 20 hectares, of which only a small part has been excavated. Here we find archaeological features such as mounds, stairways, walkways, open and closed aqueducts, water storage tanks, tombs, petroglyphs, monoliths and sculptures, which reveal a high development in civil engineering, architecture, and urbanism.

For all these discoveries, archaeologists infer that this pre-Columbian city was inhabited by people specialized in different fields, led by a chieftain, who exercised political-religious power over a large region.

The causes of the abandonment of the city or extermination of this indigenous group before the Spanish conquest are unknown. Among the hypotheses raised are diseases and war.

The Guayabo National Monument holds the designation of World Heritage of Civil Engineering, denomination granted by the American Association of Civil Engineers.