Alajuela is the capital city of the province of Alajuela in Costa Rica. It is also the name of the district (distrito) that includes the city. Alajuela serves as the capital for the canton of Alajuela, an area much larger than the district. It is the birthplace of Juan Santamaría, the national hero of Costa Rica. It hubs the Juan Santamaría International Airport, the main airport serving Costa Rica (IATA: SJO / ICAO: MROC), which is located 3 kilometers south of the city.
The district of Alajuela covers an area of 8.88 km², and has a population of 46,554. It lies at an elevation of 952 meters above sea level in the Central Valley (Valle Central), 19 kilometers northwest of the national capital city of San José.
It was created by law Nº 36, of December 7, 1848 with two cantons and eight parochial districts. In the pre-Columbian epoch, the territory that today Alajuela occupies in his south part, was inhabited by the Indians of the cacicazgo Garabito, and to the north by that of the Votos.
The province of Alajuela is one of the most extensive of the country. It borders to the north on Nicaragua, on the south with to the province of San Jose, to this one on the province of Heredia and on the west on the provinces of Guanacaste and Puntarenas.
It participation in important historical facts has placed it in a seat of honour. Son of this ground the national hero Juan Santamaría, who burned the inn of Rivas in 1856. Alajuela has reputation of enjoying a good climate, with regard to other provinces located in the central valley; it is warmer than San Jose, for what his peoples show a very good health.
In the pre-Columbian epoch the territory that today corresponds to the Canton of Alajuela was a part of the so-called Kingdom Huetar of Occident, which was inhabited by natives, who to the beginnings of the conquest were obedient of the Chief Grabito.
1650 was come by the first Spanish settlers, who occupied the uncultivated grounds of the region. The first time that the name of The Lajuela was quoted is in the protocols of Cartago, in the testament of Mrs Juana Vera y Sotomayor, widow of the Biggest Sergeant García Ramiro Corajo granted in 1657. Later in a writing of obligation granted in 1864 it turns to mention the place that they name of The Lajuela in the Valley of Barva, near to the river Canoas.
In 1777 the neighbours of The Lajuela and Ciruelas before the obligation to move to Villa Vieja (today’s Heredia), requested to construct a public provisional oratory which established in the house of Don Dionysius Oconitrillo, of Spanish origin, 30 meters to the north of where today one finds The Cathedral of Alajuela.
After increases the population of five existing quarters then: Targuaz, Puás, Ciruelas, La Lajuela and Rio Grande, the citizens faced difficulties to expire with they religious obligations, so they request the Bishop of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, Monsignor don Esteban Lorenzo de Tristán, permission to erect a parish and a public oratory.
In accordance with The Constitution promulgated in the Spanish Parliament of Cadiz (Spain, May 19, 1812), the first Town hall of Alajuela started working in 1813. On December 18 of the same year, the quarter La Lajuela obtained the title of Town and it was called a Villa Hermosa, then it was called a Saint Juan Nepomuceno de Alajuela and finally the title of city was granted to it, on November 20, 1824 preserving the name of Alajuela until our days.
This city is conformed for the following neighbourhoods, known as “distritos”: