The Aranjuez Hotel is located in Aranjuez neighborhood. This neighborhood is part of the El Carmen district; it borders at the north with Rio Torres, Calle 25 on the East, Calle 15 on the west, and Avenida 3 on the South.
The Aranjuez Neighborhood was founded in 1882 by Juan Aranjuez of Spain. If in fact it was originally founded to house families of the bourgeoisie. Today it is an urban neighborhood made up of residents of the working class. As our guests walk around the neighborhood, they will have the opportunity to become part of the daily routine of the families that live here and those who come seeking medical care at the Calderon Guardia Hospital. They will also encounter countless students that attend the two universities and the high school located two blocks from the Aranjuez Hotel.
The Aranjuez neighborhood is historically related to a series of remarkable events that provided basic services critical in the development and consolidation of our capital city. The Atlantic Railroad Station, the Customs Office, The Currency House, the Water Reservoirs, and the Calderon Guardia Hospital all formed a complex of buildings that were located within the original limits of the Aranjuez neighborhood.
The first electrical plant, inaugurated on August 9, 1884, was built in Aranjuez on the southwest corner of the Calderon Guardia Hospital. With this lighting that consisted of 25 lamps, San Jose became the third city in the world, and the first in Latin America to have electrical lighting, preceded only by Paris and New York. Initially, the lighting service covered the area from the Atlantic Railroad Station to the Del Carmen Church, and from there to the Parque Central , and then on to other parts of the city. Thanks to the energy generated by the Pelton Wheel which was installed in Aranjuez by Manuel V. Dengo and Luis Batres in 1892, the electrical lighting of the incandescent system was made available to homes.
The water reservoirs that fed the iron pipes with the water for the City of San Jose were located in Aranjuez. This project was completed on August 25, 1868.
The Atlantic Railroad Station was of critical importance to the development of our capital city. The movement of goods coming from outside the country and from the interior, and the main sources of communication outside the country and between the cities in the Central Valley, were all concentrated at the Atlantic Railroad Station. The railroad that connected San Jose and Limon, and the trolley system dating back to 1899, were both housed at this station.
La Calle de la Estación (Station Street), later referred to as the “Avenida de Los Damas” (Avenue of Ladies), consisted of the area between the Atlantic Railroad Station and Parque Morazán . Because of its location, it became the entry point to the City of San Jose and the gathering center for the bourgeoisie. The Parque Nacional (National Park) , the Monumento a los Héroes de The Parque Nacional (National Park), the Monumento a los Héroes de 1856 (Monument to the Heroes-inaugurated on September 15, 1895), bridges, steps, sidewalks and walls, are all constant reminders of an era of prosperity in San José, from the end of the Nineteenth Century to the first half of the Twentieth Century. The Avida de Los Damas was declared a place of cultural interest on the 19 of May, 1994.
The old Customs Office, inaugurated in 1891, complemented the services provided by the Atlantic Railroad Station. The old Customs building was used for the warehousing, registration and dispatching of goods that entered the country via the Atlantic Railroad. This 4,160 square meter building, built completely with bricks, is one of the largest buildings in the City of San Jose that has been preserved from the Nineteenth Century. Today, the old Customs Building is now an artistic and cultural center which we encourage you to visit.
The House of Currency was also part of the Customs and Railroad complex. The House of Currency located initially in front of the Station, from its opening in 1917 to its closure in 1949, houses the Aduana Theater, located at the east corner of the Main Customs Building. This building which is now a historical landmark, consists of a huge gallery of metallic structure and sheets of tin on its walls.
The development of the Aranjuez neighborhood was touched by all of these factors that attracted a large number of families to its territory, especially after the Cartago Earthquake of 1910. Mr. Luis Llac Llagostera, designer and architect of the Palacio de Correos (the Post Office Building), was one of the distinguished persons that lived in Aranjuez. The Eloisa Movie Theater opened. In 1925 Santiago Sabatino built the Trípoli Movie Theater. During the 1950s Santiago Duran opened the Aranjuez Movie Theater in a building North of the Aranjuez Hotel. Today this building houses administrative offices for the Costa Rican Social Security Administration.
The Santa Teresita Church, which opened in 1920, consolidated the Aranjuez Neighborhood as having the largest concentration of bourgeoisie residents. This church designed by architect Jose Maria Barrantes, is one of the best examples of the neoclassic style in our country; it has a basilica made up of three wings, Corinthian and Ionic columns, and windows with timbals. For its construction, a new technological innovation was used, reinforced concrete and a structure imported from Belgium. The Santa Teresita Church was declared a Historic Landmark on February 18, 1999.
In 1939, the construction of a house for children began on the North side of the old reservoirs that supplied the City of San Jose with water. This construction was halted due to lack of funding. It became the foundation of the first Social Security Hospital. In 1942, during the administration of Dr. Calderon Guardia, the land and what was already built on it was given to the newly founded Social Security Administration of Costa Rica. The construction of the two story building was completed in 1945, and it was called the “El Policlínico del Seguro Social” (The Policlinic of the Social Security). Since that time, the constructions, the remodeling and purchases of neighboring land by the Social Security Administration have not stopped, hence the total transformation of the Aranjuez neighborhood.
Many homes were demolished and many more were converted to clinics, and medical offices or they were bought or leased for business purposes, soda fountains, restaurants, photocopying, pharmacies, etc. In 1952, the Policlínica, after undergoing a remodel which increases the number of beds to 200, changed its name to Hospital Central.
Finally, in an official ceremony on November 7, 1972, the name of Hospital General was changed to Hospital Rafael Angel Calderón Guardia. With this, a well deserved recognition was given to the former president, the creator of the Social Security system, and a champion of social reform in Costa Rica; which includes the promotion of social guarantees and the composition of the first Labor Code. On December 31, 2003, the original building, the areas between the Medical Tower to the north, and towards the water reservoirs to the south, and the plaza that accesses the hospital on the west side, were all declared Historical Landmarks. This original building was designed by architect Jose Maria Barrantes, and it consists of two stories built with reinforced concrete in the art deco style.
We invite you to tour the Aranjuez neighborhood to enjoy all of the historic attractions.