Liberia is known as the White City
Liberia as yet, retains its essentially Tico flavor, tourists are still regarded with curious interest if seen walking down the street and you certainly won’t find yourself hassled by pushy salesmen here which is somewhat of a relief for those who have been visiting the heavily tourist populated towns such as Monteverde and Arenal and beaches like Tamarindo.
If you want to experience a living Costa Rican town at work then Liberia is the place to go. It is much smaller and less chaotic than San Jose and you can still see remnants of its colonial era. It is known as the ‘Ciudad Blanca’ (White City) due to the white 'bahareque' houses, a material made of straw and cattle dung, similar to adobe.
The town is laid out in the standard block system and is centered around the Plaza Central with its modern church (Iglesia Inmaculada Concepcion de Maria) as the main centerpiece. The clock tower, completely separate from the rest of the church, is an interesting architectural feature, although don’t rely on its timekeeping as the hands rarely move!
One of the best things to do in Liberia is simply take a stroll along the streets and see where you end up, that’s if you have a good sense of direction of course.
But you should always try and make it back to the Plaza Central at dusk to listen to the gossip of the local birds (zanates), the winged variety that is.
However, do keep an eye skyward, otherwise you may find yourself returning to your hotel room with an addition to your outfit. On the bright side, apparently this is supposed to bring you good luck if it lands on your head!
The oldest church in Liberia is locally called La Agoniaand is at the far end of Avenida Central. (see map). Behind which on a clear day you can see the distant Volcan Miravalles. There are also several other older buildings along this street leading from the Plaza Central to La Agonia, including the La Gobernacion building. If you wander near the outskirts of town you may be lucky enough to see howler monkeys, known as ‘congos’ cruising around the tree tops.
Also around town you will find many Guanacaste trees, the national tree of Costa Rica, along with their unusual ear-shaped seed pods, known locally as ‘Orejas’ (ears). Not to be confused with the large, circular sweet snack of the same name often found hanging in market stalls. Break one open (the seed pod) and give it a sniff, it has a unique smell, rather akin to cat’s urine or something of that nature.
Liberia’s block system is mostly one way, apart from the Avenida 25 Julio which becomes the Avenida Central, so if you are driving yourself double check which way traffic is going as signs are not always obvious and make sure you watch out for the stop ‘Alto’ signs. Even locals get it wrong sometimes so don’t be too embarrassed if you do! Accidents like elsewhere in Costa Rica are very common here. As a pedestrian, still look both ways when crossing the street even if you think you’ve got the traffic direction down pat, as the one-way rule does not seem to apply to cyclists or else is just blissfully ignored. Bearing in mind that a bike doesn’t make any noise, you won’t have heard it coming when you suddenly find yourself making sudden acquaintance with said bike and irate cyclist.
Anyway that said, we hope that you enjoy an accident free stay in Liberia.