This castle-like building, which was the most feared prision in Costa Rica from 1908 to 1979, has been reconstructed into the bright, happy and fun Children’s Museum (Museo de los Ninos). In 1990, Costa Rica First Lady Gloria Bejarano Almada envisioned the utterly deplitated building, which was really just concrete, high grass and vermin, as a museum for children. And while the Costa Rican people literally thought she had gone crazy, Almada was able to open her “Castle of Dreams” in 1994 within weeks of a new administration taking office.
Centrally located in San Jose, this large building — called the Costa Rican Center of Science and Culture — features five different wings: a penitentiary museum, arts gallery, theater, event space and the children’s museum.
The Children’s Museum is considered a place of light that came out of the darkness of the penitentiary. Kids will love the numerous hands-on exhibits that can easily rival a children’s museum in the U.S. Kids can walk through a giant mouth in a health exhibit; climb in the cockpit of a space ship; create a television newscast; board an actual train; watch frogs, snakes and fish; take an optical illusion photo while playing with mirrors, or test out an earthquake simulator. There are 43 different rooms (inside and outside) with different topics throughout, where kids will learn about Costa Rican history, health and culture while having the time of their lives.
Tuesday through Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.