Sarchi, an idyllic town located about an hour away from San Jose, is known around the world for its extensive dedication to furniture making and handcrafts. Ask anyone in Costa Rica where the finest furniture can be found, and the answer will always be Sarchí.
Sarchí is small municipality within the Valverde Vega canton; it is not far from the city of Grecia, province of Alajuela. This town is situated in the green mountains at the edge of the Central Valley, and it is one of the most colorful places of Costa Rica. This is a place brimming with creativity and artisanship; Sarchí is blessed with intricately painted ox carts, masterful furniture and woodwork, traditional food, and very friendly people.
One of the best times to visit Sarchí is from July 2nd to the 11th, which is when a major furniture festival takes place. This festival is visited by people from around the world; many foreign visitors are furniture connoisseurs who come to Costa Rica once a year specifically to see (and often acquire) new creations.
Furniture makers in Sarchí use the finest and most precious woods to ply their craft. Two popular choices are Cedrela odorata (a cedar) and Albizia saman (rain tree); with these species they make dining room sets, desks, bedroom sets, canes, cabinets, rocking chairs, ornaments, and much more. Two of the most recognized craftsmen in Sarchí at this time are Junior Chavarria, who is known for his sublime sculpture Monument to the Ox Cart, and Miguel Salazar, a master ox cart maker.
As Costa Rica’s most well-known crafts center, Sarchi is also 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 Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 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 - in the Central Park in front of the main church. For the record, the Guinness book of world records, that is, the cart is 14 meters (about 45 feet) long and weighs two tons. Built to scale, it is five times the size of a normal oxcart, according to Fernando Alfaro, whose factory built the enormous wagon.
Costa Rica has a little bit of "something" for everyone...diversity deluxe!!
Have a sensational day! PURA VIDA!!