September 30th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Costa Rica’s capital city of San José celebrates its 200th birthday on October 18th.
The date marks two hundred years since the Spanish parliament gave the town the title of ‘city’ in 1813, though San José’s history actually stretches back to 1738.
Though the city was not founded with a formal act of foundation, it can stretch its history back to 1738, when Cabildo de Leon ordered the construction of a chapel near the area known as La Boca del Monte with the objective of concentrating the scattered inhabitants of the Aserri Valley. Construction of the chapel was completed two years later. That year, St. Joseph (San José) was chosen as parish patron, hence the city’s current name. The modest chapel was erected with help from the church of Cartago.
As San José, unlike Cartago, was not founded with a formal act of foundation, it was not considered a city or town and thus lacked a city government. It was not until the enactment of the Constitution of Cádiz in 1812 that San José had its first city government.
A year later, in 1813, the Spanish parliament gave the town the title of ‘city,’ which will be celebrated as the city’s bicentennial this October. The city lost its title just a year later, however, when Ferdinand VII of Spain annulled the proceedings that granted its ‘city’ title. The municipal government and the city’s official title of ‘city’ were later restored in 1820.
San José became the capital of Costa Rica in 1823, when Republican leader Gregorio Jose Ramirez moved the capital from Cartago, because Cartago wanted to unite the newly independent province of Costa Rica to the Iturbide’s Mexican Empire while San José and Alajuela supported a Republic system.
To celebrate the city’s bicentennial, a group of organizers has created a campaign called ‘Felices 200 Chepe,’ in which residents and visitors alike are asked to take photos of themselves with a birthday message for Chepe – a nickname for the city used often by Costa Ricans – preferably from landmarks in the city – and upload them to the Felices 200 Chepe Facebook page.