La Sabana Metropolitan Park

La Sabana Park

Metropolitan Recreation

Park bench at La Sabana Lake.
Taking it easy at La Sabana Park.

Sabana Park was created a long time ago. Costa Rica’s first chief of state, Juan Mora Fernandez, designated a large savanna to the west of the town of San Jose for pastures and recreation in 1830. Since then this beautiful place of leisure has been known as La Sabana Park; except for that one time when it became the main international airport of Costa Rica.

Trees within La Sabana Park.
Generous tree shade at La Sabana Metropolitan Park.

La Sabana Metropolitan Park has an area of 72 hectares. That’s roughly 178 acres. The park is also home to the National Stadium, the National Gymnasium,  and the Costa Rican Art Museum. Park visitors can also practice a variety of sports. They will find 12 soccer fields, 8 softball and baseball diamonds, 6 tennis courts, basketball courts, one futsal court, an Olympic pool, and an oval track for roller skating that goes around a rink. Moreover,  La Sabana has a running track, a children’s driving course, picnic areas, playgrounds, sculptures, forests, trails, lakes, and gardens.

History of La Sabana Park

Aerial picture of La Sabana, 1917.
La Sabana, 1917.

Yes, San Jose, Costa Rica’s largest recreation area was also used as a landing strip during the early 1900s. Back then tens of thousands of Ticos enthusiastically welcomed daring flyers of the likes of Jesse Seligman in 1912. Charles Lindbergh also came to Costa Rica in 1928. By 1940, an increasing number of international flights landing in La Sabana led president Leon Cortes to convert La Sabana Park into La Sabana International Airport.

South Sabana in San Jose.
South Sabana, aka, Sabana Sur.

In 1977 president Daniel Oduber permanently closed down the airport and turned La Sabana into a metropolitan park, again. The Costa Ricans planted exotic eucalyptus trees in La Sabana back then. The eucalyptus came and the eucalyptus went. Currently, La Sabana Park has been undergoing a facelift by replacing its eucalyptus trees with local species of flora. This reforestation process is benefiting the city’s fauna by proving food and shelter for birds, and other local wildlife.