Map of Santa Rosa historic mansion
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As a monument of national significance, Santa Rosa hacienda represents a tradition that formed what would become the province of Guanacaste, in the northwestern part of the country. That was the dedication, from colonial times, of these extensive, generally plain, dry terrains to cattle breeding. Santa Rosa, which started in the 17th century, was one of the richest ranches and became part of the culture of the “sabanero” or cowboy, fundamental part of the cultural specificity of the Guanacaste lowlands. But the most important fact for which this ranch is know is the fact that in 1856, on the verge of an invasion from Nicaragua by what are known as the filibusters, a heterogeneous group of American and European pro slavers that came to Central America to create a branch of the American south, believed in a racial superiority, and pretended to built the canal between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Those had taken the control of Nicaragua and were ready to continue invading the rest of countries, but Costa Rican president Juan Rafael Porras organized and armed an army composed mainly of peasants, which defeated on March 20th the invading army.
The building is of extreme importance for those two facts, and its surrounding guard reminders of both its agricultural functions, such as the instruments, the livestock pens and the rests of the different battles that took place here between 1856 and 1955. The ranch was the starting point from which in the 60s Santa Rosa became the start for what would become Santa Rosa National Park, part from 1999 of the World Heritage List as a natural site, that protects the remaining of the tropical dry forest that once covered the pacific coast of central America and has a great biodiversity, geological and landscape importance, and several wild and rugged beaches where turtles nestle. But this isn´t a cultural site and probably won´t have it since in 2000 a group of hunters that were angry for the work of the park rangers, burnt most of Santa Rosa Hacienda to the ground, an event that represented the lack of protection and interest in the country to safeguard the cultural heritage. The hacienda was reconstructed as a mostly faithful copy, but the damage was already done and the authenticity was gone with it. This shows the tragedy and permanent threat over the cultural and architectural heritage in Costa Rica.