First decade of the Casa Amarilla. Photo by Manuel Gómez Miralles.
Since 1844 the Ministry of Foreign Relations and Worship has existed in Costa Rica, although as of August 8, 1921 the offices began to be located in the Otoya neighborhood, specifically in the Casa Amarilla (Yellow House). For this reason, in the year 2021, Casa Amarilla celebrates 100 years of being the house of this ministry.
The origins of the house date back to the early 20th century, when American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie made a donation for the construction of the Casa Amarilla, where the Central American Court of Justice, the world's first international court, was located. The court is extinguished in 1918, and finally the government chooses to cede the complex to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship.
Facade of the Casa Amarilla illuminated at night in San José.
Inside the Casa Amarilla you can find different interior and exterior sections, such as the Plaza de la Libertad, located on the northwest side of the complex, which has a piece of the historic Berlin Wall. In 1994 it arrived by boat from Germany, donated by the German government and requested by the then Chancellor of Costa Rica. This symbolic piece is visible from the sidewalks that surround this section of the complex. It is part of a series of artifacts and objects that have been donations or diplomatic exchanges between Costa RIca and other countries.
The fragment of the Berlin Wall is visible from the outside of the building, as its square remains closed.
The building has different rooms, including one with desks in which academic activities around the career of diplomacy are carried out, and very close to this room, there is a small museum in which objects such as Ancient and valuable documents, as well as some extravagant artifacts, among these stands out a replica of the sword of the Liberator Simón Bolívar, which was given in 2002 by the late Venezuelan ex-president Hugo Chávez, something that used to be custom in this president at the time of exchanging diplomatic gifts with other leaders.
In this small room the objects mentioned on the walls and display cabinets are housed.
Replica of the sword of Simón Bolívar, donated by the late ex-president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez.
One of the most important rooms is the Salón Dorado (Golden Room), it is the state diplomatic ceremony hall, for example it is where ambassadors receive their credentials and high-level meetings are held. The design of this space was made to host the sessions of the Central American Court of Justice mentioned above.
In Salón Dorado you can see the design made for a classic style court, with two doors for the formal acts of the court.
The Salón Azul (Blue Room) is located on the first level of the building, and is the place of important bilateral meetings, where decisions of great importance have been made in relation to the foreign policy of Costa Rica, it has an oval table, specially built for the summit of presidents. During John F. Kennedy's visit to Costa Rica in 1963, it was positioned in the amphitheater of the National Theater, and at that time Kennedy met with the rest of the Central American presidents of the time.
The Blue Room has witnessed important bilateral agreements of great relevance for Costa Rica.
The oval table in the Salón Azul was used at the summit of presidents together with the visit of John F. Kennedy in 1963, inside the National Theater of Costa Rica. Photo by Life magazine.
As is common in many of the old buildings in San José, the south side of the building has a beautiful central patio and its classic tile-covered fountain. When entering through the main door of the Yellow House, you come directly to this patio in which we find on the first and second levels, the Salon Dorado and the Salón Azul respectively.
Passing through the main door of the building, we find this beautiful courtyard, a classic of the early 20th century constructions in the city.
Part of the formality of this ministry is to have different formal acts for the reception of diplomats and government authorities, among these stands out the placement of a red carpet at its main entrance, which is placed, for example, if a president of another country visits Costa Rica for diplomacy purposes.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship with the protocol prepared for the diplomatic reception, through the symbolic red carpet at the main entrance of the building.
Casa Amarilla is considered a National Monument and Historical Architectural Heritage of Costa Rica since 1976, public access to this building is currently not the most common despite its internal attractions, however, tours of the interior of the building used to be made some years ago. On August 8, 2021, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship will celebrate 100 years of having the Casa Amarilla as its headquarters.