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The Tile Art of Barrio Amon

Updated: Jul 1, 2018

On one of the exterior walls of the boutique Hotel don Carlos in Barrio Amon, you will find a series of rustic-style hand painted tiles depicting scenes from the Costa Rican countryside from an earlier era.

by Michael Miller

(December, 2014, revised May, 2018.)

The tile art of Barrio Amon.  Downtown San José is filled with public art. Everywhere you look you will see statues, paintings, parks and beautiful architecture.

In the Barrio Amón section of San José, what you will find are tiles . . . . hand painted tiles.  Tile art is everywhere in this neighborhood.  It is on the exterior walls of private homes, and on the walls of hotels and restaurants. You can find it on the walls of office buildings.  It is hidden in private alcoves.  Some of it jumps out at you as you walk the neighborhood, and some of it you have to look for.

An example of hand-painted tile art. This one depicts an old fashioned wedding scene in the Costa Rican countryside.

A country market scene.

The tile pictures are mostly done by Costa Rican artists.  Many of them are quite beautiful. As you scroll through this article, please spend some time and enjoy this selection of Barrio Amon's hand-painted tile art.

This interesting brick wall surrounds a private home next to the Hotel don Carlos. It features a series of hand painted tiles with images from the classic Spanish novel Don Quixote de la Mancha.

An exhausted Don Quixote and his horse, Rocinante, rest by a stream. Both the horse and his master are past their prime and engaged in a task beyond their capabilities.

The herb seller. This hand painted tile work shows a man, looking a bit lonely, tending his shop at the mercado selling herbal remedies.

This tile work shows a working class cantina scene. This picture and the one above can be found together in the Barrio Amon neighborhood, on an exterior wall of a building next to the Dunn Inn, and across from the Hotel Taormina.

Perhaps the best way to see the hand painted tile art of Barrio Amon is to start at the Hotel don Carlos. At this lovely boutique hotel, you will find tile art on its outside wall facing Avenida 9, and you will see several pieces in the lobby and in the common areas of the hotel. Nearby, you can find several more works of tile art, including the wonderful series of scenes from Don Quixote de la Mancha on the wall of the house next door.

From the Hotel don Carlos, you can just wander around the once stately old neighborhood of Barrio Amon and discover. The Hotel don Carlos is located on Calle 9 and Avenida 9, diagonally across from the Hemingway Inn.

This hand painted tile sign welcomes guests to the Hotel don Carlos. This is a great place to begin a walking tile tour of the stately Barrio Amon neighborhood.

This ornate guard house at Park Espana, across from the Casa Amarilla, features hand painted tile trim and a painting of a Costa Rican church on all four sides.

Barrio Amón is the neighborhood immediately behind the Holiday Inn Tower in Downtown San José.  At the beginning of the 20th century, it was the wealthiest and most fashionable section of San José.

Long neglected, and for many years considered the haunt of prostitutes (of both sexes) and their North American clients, Barrio Amon is currently undergoing a renaissance.  It is rapidly being “gentrified” and, at least in some places, restored to its former glory.

This exquisite alcove is the entry way to a private home next door to the Sportsmen's Lodge in Barrio Amon. This image depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary, a popular subject in this Roman Catholic country.

Downtown San José is a city full of surprises.  It’s all part of the real San José.

Michael Miller is the author of the first and only guide book that focuses on Downtown San José, Costa Rica, titled The Real San José. Paperback copies are available for sale in the gift shop of the Hotel don Carlos.  An electronic version of The Real San José is available at Amazon/Kindle.  To access it, click here.

Your questions and comments are always welcomed. You can contact Michael directly by email: You can see additional stories that Michael has written about Downtown San José at his website:


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