Puerto Rico (Old San Juan)
The island of Puerto Rico is one of the most preferred tourist destination in the Archipelago of Antilles. Geographically located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Dominican Republic about 1,000 miles southeast Miami, Florida. San Juan commonly named, “The Wall City” is the capital of Puerto Rico, the oldest city of the U.S. jurisdiction and the second oldest European-founded city in the Americas. Particularly, Old San Juan is a 465-year-old neighborhood and one of the commercial district areas of San Juan city that brings together the historic colonial section, unique architecture, beautiful beaches and Atlantic Ocean view of the harbor, museums, restaurants, artisans, charming residential, hotels and casinos.
The National Historic Site from the 16th-century architecture encountered at the Old San Juan is the Fort commonly known El Morro has the distinction of being the largest fortification in the Caribbean with 174 total acres. The outstanding view of the San Juan Bay from El Morro is the choice spot for photographers around the world. The fortification has 140 feet above the sea, its exceptional 18-foot-thick wall was built for defense to intimidate enemies from land assault. El Morro was strategically planned with tunnels, dungeons, barracks, outposts, ramps and small, circular sentry boxes called “Garitas” that have become a national symbol of Puerto Rico. One more strategic masterpiece and national historic site in the city of defense is Castillo San Cristobal built in 1634 it features five independent units each connected by moat and tunnels. Furthermore, tourists have the options to visit San Geronimo Fort near Caribe Hilton Hotel and the Santa Elena Battery building. The mysticism of Old San Juan bring to your mind all the following histrionic buildings from the 16th to 18th centuries.
Old San Juan: Sixteen to Eighteen Centuries of Mysticism
The beginning of our histrionic journey begins with the National Historic Monument White House located on San Sebastian Street, Old San Juan was built in 1521 and lived by Juan Ponce de Leon descendants for over 250 years of history. The San Juan Cathedral is the second cathedral in the Western Hemisphere from 1521 is an example of medieval architecture that holds the marble tomb of the island’s governor Juan Ponce De Leon and the relic of San Pío. The San Jose Church initially called the Church and Monastery of Saint Thomas, it was built in 1523 by Dominican friars as the monastery’s church and chapel dedicated to Saint Thomas Aquinas is an excellent example of 16th century Spanish Gothic architecture and Juan Ponce de Leon and Puerto Rican painter Jose Campeche were buried here. The Dominican Convent was built by Dominican friars in 1523, this building has served alternately as a convent, as a shelter against Carib Indian raids, and as the Caribbean headquarters of the U.S. Army, also contains a small chapel museum. The 300 years fortress Palacio de Santa Catalina commonly named as “La Fortaleza” finalized in 1540. The building was the first of a series of military facilities constructed in the Bay of San Juan and became the official’s Governor Residence.
During the 17th century, the Cristo Chapel was constructed in 1753 to memorialize a citizen’s story miracle, also the Jose Campeche paintings can be seen through the church’s glass doors. The Casino of Puerto Rico was built before World War I remind you of the style of French mansions of the Louis XVI era. The San Juan City Hall was also constructed in the 17th century. The San Juan Gate was built in the late 1700s in one of the six heavy wooden doors in the wall which from centuries were closed at sunset to cut off access to the city and protect the city from intruders. The Promenade of the Princess is an elegantly landscape walkaway with trees, statues facing the San Juan Bay. The San Juan Memorial park is located between El Morro and the rocky cliffs above the Atlantic. Through the 18th century, the theater know as Alejandro Tapia y Rivera is one of the oldest theater in the Western Hemisphere built in 1832 offered a variety of entertainment in fine arts.
Old San Juan: Nineteen to Twenty Centuries of Mysticism
From the 19th century, tourists will find one of the Puerto Rican architecture icon “La Interdencia” formerly holds the Puerto Rico State Department. The Ballajá Barracks housed Spanish soldiers and their families in the late 1800s was the last and largest building constructed by the Spaniards in the New World. The Home of the Poor was built in 1840 for the indigent people but today houses the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture offering exhibits galleries every day, an impressive collection of artifacts from pre-European Puerto Rico, including pottery, stone tools and relics, and a recreation of a Taino village. The San Juan Museum of Art and History was built in 1855 showcases Puerto Rico art and music.
The Pablo Casals Museum is the Spanish master’s inheritance to the people of Puerto Rico which collections includes manuscripts, memorabilia, photographs and a library of videotapes of Festival Casals concerts in Puerto Rico. Furthermore, the House of the Two Foyers is home of the Museum of the Indians and features ceramics and archeological digs. Essentially, it houses the Museum of the Americas since 1992 features changing exhibitions, craft exhibits and the impressive collection of Caribbean and European American art, artifacts and the most notably diverse collection of carved saints. The Felisa Rincon Gautier Museum is a colonial building that holds memorabilia from Felisa Rincon de Gautier, the dynamic mayor of San Juan from 1946 to 1968. The House of Buttresses is a traditional Spanish-style home, which holds the Museum of Colonial Architecture and the Museum of the Puerto Rico Family features African artifacts, including masks, maps, musical instruments, and paintings. The House of the Book is an 18th-century house that is now a book museum holding a rare collection of early manuscripts and books from 15th-century.
The House of Ramon Power-Girault is the Headquarters for the Conservation Trust in Puerto Rico on of the best examples from eighteen to nineteen centuries Spain architecture. The Capitol Building of Puerto Rico was inaugurated in 1929 hold the offices of senators on ones wing and those of representatives on the other, with galleries, friezes, mosaics and the impressive rotunda in which Puerto Rico’s constitution is exhibited. Old San Juan is consider one of the oldest cities of America comprising the European heritage from the sixteen to twenty centuries in their histrionic architecture. A place to visit and remember forever.
Dr. Carmen I. Figueroa-Medina
San Juan, Puerto Rico
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