Map of Church of Nicoya
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Outside the central valley, the most important area in the colony was present day western Guanacaste province that back in those days was known as the Partido de Nicoya. From the pre-Columbian times it had already a distinctive cultural input from the rest of the country, since it culturally belonged to the Mesoamerican region, having contact with Maya and Aztec cultures, but with particular features. When Spanish explorer Gil González Dávila reached the capital of Nicoya chiefdom (or cacicazgo) saw that the city included several pyramids and a temple, which have not survived to present day. It has not been demonstrated if the Spanish town was super imposed to the chorotega one and the church was located on the pyramid, or it was located in a nearby site called Sabana Grande, but the fact is that Nicoya parish was established by the Franciscan missionaries between 1522 and 1544, being the fist Spanish permanent town in all of present day Costa Rica. Since then to republican times, Nicoya was the capital of the partido de Nicoya, which decided to annex to Costa Rica in 1825.
About the building (located in http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=e4c4fc5752ab6d497e38810f6923de53&hl=es&ct=lc), it is simple, two-storey high, does not have a tower but has instead a bulrush, and it is immaculately painted with white lime, an architectural style present in colonial churches of Nicaragua. The church is believed to be built in 1644, was damaged by strong earthquakes in 1822 and 1950, but has been repaired, it presently serves as a museum and contains several relics that date back to colonial times “including a statue of St. Francis of Assisi in 1522, a font of 1644, the bronze bells used during 1768 and a berth in the sixteenth century that served to carry on a litter to the priest".
As part of the old tentative list of Costa Rica, it would not be considered of universal value except in the case it was included with other similar sites as a serial nomination, but as a monument of national importance, it is definitively worth a visit when you are on a visit to Nicoya city, in the way to the famous beaches of Guanacaste´s pacific coast.