Sarchí Norte is the capital city of the canton of Valverde Vega in the province of Alajuela in Costa Rica.
The district of Sarchí Norte covers an area of 15.11 km², including the central area of the city. It has a population of 6,912. The district of Sarchí Sur covers an area of 6.51 km², and has a population of 4,659.
The city lies at an elevation of 970 meters above sea level on the slopes of the Cordillera Central (Central Mountain Range) at the eastern edge of the Central Valley. It is 27 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital city of Alajuela, and 46 kilometers from the national capital city of San Jose.
Sarchí is Costa Rica’s most famous crafts center. The town offers more than 200 stores and small family-operated woodworking factories producing wooden bowls and other tableware, fold-up rocking chairs of wood and leather, and a wide variety of kitschy items. The most popular items on sale are “carretas”, elaborately painted oxcarts that traditionally carried coffee from the highlands down to the port on the Pacific coast.
Originally was settled by Ambrosio Alfaro Godinez in the second half of 19th century, the earliest reference to it in 1836 The original Aztec name Sarchí means “potrero” or open field used to keep horses and cattle, the first settlers found it in that condition, and surrounded by tropical rain forest. Reference from Evly Inksetter, the first country historian. The name of Sarchí comes from the Aztec word “xalachi”, which means “relax place” or “down the sand place” The town was granted the title of “ciudad” (city) by a law of September 21, 1963.
It was also the place where serial furniture manufacture started in Costa Rica, around 1890 decade with a design of Daniel Alfaro Corrales, and later mass produced by his brother Pedro Juvenal Alfaro Corrales, those furnitures, in special the chairs are known as “sillas sarchí” and are easily recognized because most of the parts were turned. Eloy Alfaro Corrales, the youngest brother was partner with Pedro Juvenal, but later started his own business of Oxcart making when he bought the workshop of Sem Perez who in turn bought it from Hacienda La Eva
Around 1900-03 Daniel Alfaro Corrales also designed the modern and improved oxcart including the segmented wooden wheel in use today from the previous very crude and primitive platform know as “Cureña”, in the particular case of the wheel is stronger than the original one piece, or the lightly improved three pieces design.
The canton was established by a decree Number 766 in October 26, 1949. It is named in honor of Dr. Carlos Luis Valverde Vega, a Medical Doctor and founder of the Unión Médica Nacional (National Medical Union)who was the first death of the 1948 revolution. The members of the board that struggle to accomplish it are: Samuel Alfaro Alpízar, Efraím Zamora Castro, Daube Alfaro Castro, Pedro Alfaro Zamora, Hebly Inkseter Soto, Otoniel Alfaro Alfaro and Eliécer Pérez Conejo and they are know today as the founders. The Canton was inaugurated in January 1, 1950, after several years of struggle.
Places of interest
- Church: One of Costa Rica’s most beautiful houses of worship, this “wedding cake” church features a vaulted hardwood ceiling and carvings contributed by local artisans. (North Sarchí).
- Taller Eloy Alfaro (He was know in the town as “Don Lolo”): a workshop that produces oxcarts using machinery powered by a waterwheel (Pelton), with the most of same machines used in the manufacturing of the oxcart from late 19th century in the original workshop in Hacienda la Eva.
- World’s Largest Oxcart: A huge, brightly-painted carreta that sits in the Parque Central (Central Park) in front of the church in North Sarchí. It was built in 2006 in order to get the name of the town into The Guinness Book of World Records. The plan was a success.
- Botanical Garden Else Kientzler: The Botanical Garden is home to over 2,000 different plants from around the world. They are perfectly suited for recreation, education and ecotourism. The Botanical Garden is spread over 7 hectares (17 acres).