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Das Techmuseum im Herzen des Silicon Valley, Bild: Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz / shutterstock

San José – the city of innovations

When you think of California, you usually associate the state with endless sandy beaches. However, California has more to offer, such as Silicon Valley, the birthplace of significant technological developments. The fact that innovation and summer feeling also go together is shown by the city of San José in western California.

A portrait of San José

The former capital of the coastal state was founded in 1777 by a farmers’ association as El Pueblo de San José De Guadalupe. The city is considered the oldest civilian settlement in California and, as of 2020, is home to just over one million citizens on an area of 461.5 km². In the meantime, the city in the west of the USA is considered the capital of Silicon Valley, the country’s technology stronghold. But San José is not only known for its innovations, but also for its multiculturalism. Geographically, the city is located in the south of San Francisco Bay. The Guadalupe River flows through San José.

Must-Sees in San José

Plaza de Cesar Chavez, San Jose
Plaza de Cesar Chávez is a small park in Downtown San Jose, Image: Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz / shutterstock

One of the most popular destinations in San José is the Tech Museum of Innovation, which supports the city’s reputation as the capital of Silicon Valley. The museum was founded in 1998 and is now better known as The Tech Interactive. Even the building stands out due to its special construction and colouring. On three floors, the mango and azure Tech Interactive has various exhibitions, laboratories and experiments to visit. For example, you can design and assemble robots under the topic of social robots. In addition, the museum has exhibitions on the universe, medical innovations and also on the future of the earth. Furthermore, there is a cinema on the premises of the Tech, which shows both current films and documentaries. Tickets for the museum are available for the equivalent of about €21 for adults and €17 for children, students and pensioners. IMAX cinema prices vary depending on the type of film. However, there are also combination tickets. The Tech Interactive is the perfect destination if you want to combine education and research with a lot of fun.

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Less technological, but more mystical is the Winchester House, in the center of San José. The house, which was bought by Sarah Winchester in 1894, is considered one of California’s landmarks and has served as inspiration for many mystery and crime films and books. The house was repeatedly rebuilt and expanded until the death of the landlady in 1922 and comprises 161 rooms of various sizes, 40 of which served as bedrooms, over 1000 windows, secret passages and strange staircases. There are also doors behind which there are only walls and stairs that lead nowhere. According to many rumors, the lady of the house was afraid of ghosts and so she wanted to confuse them with the construction method.

In addition, Sarah Winchester is said to have always slept in another room so as not to be found by the ghosts. Since 1923, the house has been a museum and can be visited. Tours of the house start at €17 per person. In addition to the daily tours, extended tours and Halloween specials are also offered. In addition, you can also get married in the Winchester House.

Another attraction is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph. The Roman Catholic church was completed in 1884 and can accommodate 950 visitors. However, the original St. Joseph Church was built as early as 1803. However, earthquakes and fires ensured that the basilica was constantly rebuilt and the current version is the fifth St. Joseph church. The basilica is particularly unique because of its organ. The Ordell organ from 1886 is the last of its kind in the United States. The heart of St. Joseph’s Church comprises 27 registers, each with 60 pipes. Visitors can visit the basilica free of charge, but the services must be taken into account. There are also guided tours.

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Tips for a successful trip

San José is a city of multiculturalism. Spanish, Japanese, Mexican and Vietnamese influences can be found in the big city, among other places. More than 60 languages are spoken every day in the capital of Silicon Valley. That’s why it’s worth listening to a visit to San José and consciously absorbing the diversity. Even though there are many sights to explore, it is a good idea to experience the city on foot for a day. Street musicians, great encounters and delicious food are just a few things you can discover. The closest you can get to the locals is in one of the parks. The most famous is the Guadalupe River Park. In addition to relaxing greenery, it also offers an XXL Monopoly game that you can play with tourists and locals. The game pieces are life-size.

But San José is not only worthwhile for a city trip. The city in the heart of California also offers the ideal starting point for excursions across the state. Whether hiking, trips to the sea or exploring the many nearby national parks – many destinations can be easily reached from San José.

Not only a must for technology fans

The modern city is more than just the capital of Silicon Valley, but offers experiences for young and old. San José combines culture, first-hand experience of technology, beach and city trip and is worthwhile for a long weekend, a day trip or even an extended holiday. With 300 days of sunshine a year, it’s also unlikely that bad weather will spoil the holiday!