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Photographer's Note

The main attraction of Costa Rica is its biodiversity, most of the country is covered with tropical rainforests, but there are a few interesting museums and churches.
The church in Cartago is quite unique and I found it very beautiful. Its construction with a forest of columns reminded me of the mosque. The part in the middle from the entrance to the main altar is reserved for the pilgrims who move forward on their knees. I liked there also the singing.
It is the main religious center in Costa Rica, and very popular for locals, but I haven't seen the tourists there.
Information on Cartago in Wikipedia:

Founded in 1563 by Juan Vasquez de Coronado, it was the first successful establishment in Costa Rica.[2] The city was granted a coat of arms by King Philip II of Spain in 1565, and the title of Muy Noble y Muy Leal ("Very Noble and Very Loyal") by the Cortes (Spanish Parliament) in 1814. It served as the first capital of Costa Rica until 1823, when Republican leader Gregorio Jose Ramirez, moved the capital to the bigger city of San Jos because Cartago wanted to unite the newly independent province of Costa Rica to the Iturbide's Mexican Empire while San Jose and Alajuela supported a Republican system. The city was severely damaged by major earthquakes in 1822, 1841, and 1910. In 1963, a volcanic eruption of the Irazu Volcano which for two years covered San Jos in ash badly damaged some agricultural areas around Cartago, but not the city.

Many pilgrims come to Cartago annually, to visit the nation's principal church, the enormous Bas璱ica de Nuestra Se隳ra de los 聲geles, on the feast day of the Virgin of the Angels (August 2). The church has a statue of a Black Madonna known as La Negrita, who supposedly had great healing powers. The sick come to her statue in hope of a miracle from La Negrita.

According to folklore in Costa Rica, the statue was found by an indigenous girl in 1635. But, in reality, the only inhabitants were black and mulatto slaves who lived in a village named La Puebla, away from the white masters in Cartago. The legend says that she brought the statue home several times, but it mysteriously reappeared at its original site. The rock where she found it is now kept in a backroom in the basilica and is revered as a sacred relic and object of inspiration. The rock is supposed to be in the same location it was when La Negrita was found, but it has been moved as the basilica was rebuilt. It is common for pilgrims to touch the rock in reverence.

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Additional Photos by Malgorzata Kopczynska (emka) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 13718 W: 141 N: 35545] (159850)
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