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San Juan

 San Juan

Colonial San Juan is the largest city in Puerto Rico as well as its capital.

San Juan  San Juan



Location: Map




Travel Destinations in San Juan


Castillo San Cristobal (San Juan)

Calle Norzagaray

Tel. 787- 729 6960

Info: San Juan National Historic Site; Tel. 787- 729 6777

Open: 9am- 6pm daily


Castillo San Cristobal is largest citadel of the military fortifications that surrounded Old San Juan. Its construction started in 1634 and was completed in 1783 under supervision of military engineers Juan Mestre and Tornis O'Daly. It last saw action in 1898 during American- Spanish war when US warships bombarded the stronghold. At the completion of the war it was occupied by the US military. During World War II it was used to track Nazi German U- boats that used to patrol these waters. Two observation points were added to the old citadel. Today it is administered by US National Parks Service and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Plaza de Armas (San Juan)

Plaza de Armas was the central square in the fortress pictured above. It is also the first thing you will see once you enter the stronghold. On the right there are cisterns that contained water necessary for the military garrison. On the left side you can see military quarters where the soldiers slept. Parts of the exterior are restored to its original white color that was washed away by the salt water blowing from the Caribbean Sea. A small yellow chapel was dedicated to the Saint Barbara and added in the middle of the 19th century. She was considered to be patron saint of the artillery men. Gunners stationed here prayed here every day. During Spanish- American War the fortress was hit by artillery barrage from the American ships. One of the shells hit the chapel of Saint Barbara. Miraculously it did not explode sparing the chapel.

Catholic Faith played an important part in the lives of the Spanish society. Major portions of military defences were dedicated to Christian saints. City gates contained scripture verses and religious art. For example Puerta de Santiago also known as Puerta de Tierra (Land Gate) had inscription: "Nisi dominus custodierit civitatem, frustra vigilant, qui custodit" (Unless the Lord keeps the city, the watchman wakes, but in vain). Another gate of Puerta de San Juan at the entrance to the harbour had an inscription: "Benedictine qui venit in nomini Domini" (Blessed are those who come in the name of the Lord). Some of the gates even had small chapels dedicated to the saints that guarded the entrance to the fortified city.



Old Sentry Box on the left and an Observation Point from the World War II


The inside structure of Castillo San Cristobal contains numerous tunnels and underground cisterns. These were used for quick transport of people and ammo to different key points in the fortress. Additionally there were several rooms that held gunpowder and ammo. One of the rooms was turned into a long and narrow prison cell. It only had a small window that barely lightened the space. Prisoners or possibly one prisoner drew pictures of frigates and ships from the time period. The passageways contain several notches. These were used as a last resort for the defenders. In case attackers got the upper hand the soldiers that defended Castillo San Cristobal would plant dynamite and cover them with plaster. In the last minute they would blow it up burring the attackers and destroying the fortress. It was never actually used.






Castillo de San Felipe del Morro (San Juan)

San Juan

Calle del Morro

Tel. 787-729 6777

Open: 9am- 6pm daily

Castillo de San Felipe del Morro or Fortaleza San Felipe del Morro is part of the defenses of the Old San Juan. Its construction started in 1539 to protect an entrance to the harbor. Over two centuries it was increased and improved until 1786.


    San Felipe del Morro  San Felipe del Morro 


Museo de las Americas (San Juan)

Calle Norzagaray

Tel. 787-724-5052

Closed: Mon

San Juan


Museo del Nino (San Juan)

150 Calle Cristo

Tel. 787-722-3791


Iglesia de San Jose (San Juan)

Plaza de San José

Tel. 787-725-7501

Open: 8:30am-4pm Mon-Sat

Service: 12pm Sun

Iglesia de San Jose is second oldest church in the New World that was constructed in 1523. A Flemish carving of the Virgin of Bethlehem was brought here shortly after construction, however it disappeared in the early 1970's. The the church also served as a burial place for city's governor Ponce de Leon. He was moved from the temple crypt to the large cathedral of the city. It still contains a coat of arms of Juan Ponce de León.


Museo de la Farmacia (San Juan)

319 Calle Fortaleza

Tel. 787-977-2700

Closed: Sun-Mon


Museo de San Juan (San Juan)

150 Calle Norzagaray

Tel. 787-724-1875

Closed: Mon




Museo Casa Blanca (San Juan)

1 Calle San Sebastian

Tel. 787-725-1454

Entrance Fee: $2/ children $1

Open: 9am- 12pm and 1- 4;30pm Tue- Sun

Closed Sun- Mon

San Juan

Museo Casa Blanca or Museum of a White House is a former residence designed for governor of the city, Juan Ponce de León. Unfortunately he died before he got a chance to move into his first house, but it is nevertheless a historic building. It is the oldest continuously occupied house in the New World. In 1779 it was taken over by the Spanish military until 1898, when after Spanish- American war the island was transferred to United States. It was used by the American army until 1966. Today it serves as a historic museum devoted to history of the city with many artifacts, documents and other items that ranged from the 16th to the 20th century.


La Fortaleza (San Juan)

Calle Fortaleza

Tel. 787- 721- 7000

Open: 9am- 3:30pm Mon- Fri

Admission: Free

La Fortaleza also known as a El Palacio de Santa Catalina is a government building that was constructed in 1533. It is the oldest continuously used such structure in the New World. Call in advance to make sure that building is not closed for government purposes.


Plaza de Armas (San Juan)


San Francisco Street, Cruz Street and San Jose Street

Catedral de San Juan Bautista (San Juan)


Location: San Juan Street


Small Park Across the Street (San Juan)

San Juan  San Juan








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