Grecia's unusual name has inspired its residents to call themselves Greeks (Greigos), and many of them have added columns to their porches in an imitation of Greek architectural styles. But what distinguishes the village of Grecia most is its award for being the “Cleanest City in Latin America.” Which it is. The center of town is dominated by the metal-clad Cathedral de la Mercedes, a bright red church made of metal panels that were imported from Belgium in 1897. The interior is equally ornate.
To get to Grecia, even though there are pleasant back roads from Alajuela to Grecia, if you’re heading there directly from San José, take the Inter-American Highway for 34 km/21 miles and turn at the Greek columned sign.
Five minutes east of town is the well-run Mundo de las Serpientes, World of Snakes (506/494-3700), in the village of Poró. Admission to this interesting stop is about US $12. Northwest of town is Los Trapiches (506/444-6656), a factory that makes tapa dulce, sweet hard brown sugar. A waterwheel drives a 19th-century Scottish cane press that squeezes out the sugar juice. The juice is collected and boiled, then poured into molds. Open weekends. There’s swimming too, and you can bring a picnic or eat Tico food in their restaurant.
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