The Ruins of El Miro, Jacó’s Never Finished Mansion

photography by: Omri Westmark

The coastal town of Jacó resonates with everything the average tourist in Costa Rica is longing for, whether it’s pristine beaches, ample nightlife and proximity to many of the country’s natural wonders. Nevertheless, alongside its somewhat conventional attractions, a massive unfinished building known as El Miro stands out as the town’s black sheep, as far away as possible from the otherwise postcard sights we all associate with Jacó.

The Trail

The ruins of El-Miro are an abandoned residential complex that perches on a verdant mountain, southeast of the downtown, and are accessible by a wooded pathway. Located in front of Delta Jacó gas station, along the National Primary Route 34 (Carretera Costanera Sur), the trailhead is a bit tricky to find, but once you do, it is about 20 minute hike to the ruins themselves.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Following a short walk, the concrete walkway turns into a dirt path. Theoretically, it is possible to drive with a 4X4 vehicle all the way up, albeit, not recommended as you’ll miss many interesting sights and places along the trail.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Unobscured by trees, several scenic points across the trail provide a breathtaking view of Jacó, its coastline and the surrounding rainforest.

photography by: Omri Westmark


The roughly 1.3-kilometer-long trail has an elevation gain of 168 meters, making it relatively easy to climb even for people with basic physical fitness who can complete it in less than 20 minutes.

photography by: Omri Westmark


The uphill trail is littered with plenty of remnants of archways and other structures, all of which are part of El-Miro mansion and like the derelict building itself, are slowly, but steadily consumed by the surrounding nature.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Despite being mostly mildly steep, the path also has a hilly segment which under raining conditions can become muddy and slippery, and as such, considered as the most challenging part of the trail.

photography by: Omri Westmark



Following a 10-minute walk across the dense rainforest, a lookout marked by a second archway serves as the last stop before the ruins. Since all structures at the premises were built by the same owner, the graffitied colonnade features the same design as all other archways of El-Miro, including the previously mentioned deep-forest arcade.

photography by: Omri Westmark


With an expansive panorama of Jacó’s Pacific coastline, the scenic point is a worthy place by its own right, even more so, when the views are marvelously framed by the dilapidated colonnade.

photography by: Omri Westmark


A significant segment of the trail is embellished with vividly painted wall, depicting some of Costa Rica’s endemic flora and fauna. In fact, if you get lucky enough you might spot wild animals while hiking, including monkeys, sloths, a plethora of birds and perhaps most notably, scarlet macaws, as the region around Jacó is considered as their native habitat.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Following a 15–25-minute ascent, depending on your pace, the final leg of the journey is the somewhat dilapidated walkway that leads to the mansion itself, marked by a formerly lavish white banister.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Littered with dead foliage and surrounded by a thick rainforest, the walkway takes about 3 minutes to complete, after which, the centerpiece of this entire journey, El-Miro, will pop up at its fullest glory.

photography by: Omri Westmark


The Mansion

Tucked away at the top of the forested hill, the ruins of El-Miro are rather shrouded in mystery as info about its past and how it came to be are exceedingly scarce. With that said, locals claim that a wealthy man sought to construct a mansion, possibly even a hotel and a restaurant, on this high location, given its breathtaking views of Jacó’s coastline.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Unfortunately, the rich owner passed away before his splashy 3-story complex was ever completed, and so, the building was abandoned shortly after, falling into a state of disrepair.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Decades of abandonment and dereliction have made their marks on the building, which over the years became a wide-scale canvas for local artists.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Thanks to its high elevation, the decaying building became an unofficial lookout, from where the entire region and the nearby ocean can be appreciated.

photography by: Omri Westmark


As it is often the case with abandoned buildings amid a lush jungle, the structure is gradually being encroached by the surrounding nature, while occasionally, trees are being artificially assisted as they make their way upwards.

photography by: Omri Westmark



In spite of its relative isolation, the complex is decorated with dozens of Costa Rica’s national flags, particularly during and around Independence Day.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Unlike the typical case where abandoned buildings become a somewhat of a nuisance, El-Miro’s dereliction is largely contrasted by a myriad of street-art all over the premises.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Standing out particularly among the place’s abundance of art is a series of murals across the building’s main staircase, depicting a hodgepodge of animals, plants and even aliens, while an adjacent pair of painted wings serves as the ultimate backdrop for dedicated Instagrammers.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Upon close inspection, some of the murals and graffiti works reflect a far deeper message than one initially assumes. Whether it is the patriotic expression of traditional motifs or a grumpy marijuana leave beheading a Delta Cigarette, the walls are a fascinating mosaic of Costa Rica’s contemporary political and cultural landscape.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Curiously, the underground art is not limited to a single form, as evident by the adorable ceramic panels replacing dislocated tiles.

photography by: Omri Westmark


If you wish to explore the underground floor, a hidden staircase provides an access to the lower level, which is often skipped by most people who visit El-Miro.

photography by: Omri Westmark


With no banister, a parapet or a fence, the lower deck offers a fairly perilous experience, yet also a wilder one, bestowed with unobscured sights of the encroaching woodland.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Like the upper floors, the basement has its own fair share of spectacular murals, serving as a makeshift museum for contemporary street art.

photography by: Omri Westmark


As if it was taken out of a horror movie’s scene, the underground floor’s inner parts virtually consist of a dark and eerie labyrinth, where visitors can easily immerse themselves in a creepy adventure.

photography by: Omri Westmark