Puerto Rico - San Juan

Tags: Puerto Rico, sailing, San Juan

Date: March 25, 2017

The entrance to the harbor of San Juan - the capital of Puerto Rico - is protected by a large fort, El Morro:

The town of San Juan was founded by the Spanish in 1521. Initially, the town was called Puerto Rico (Rich Port) while the island was named San Juan but for some reason the names where switched around at some point. The town was attacked several times due to its strategic position at the entrance to the Caribbean sea and the Spanish territories on Hispañola and Cuba and in America. Puerto Rico remained a Spanish territory until 1898 where it was ceded to the USA as part of the peace negotiations after the Spanish-American war. The old part of San Juan has several examples of sixteenth and seventeenth century Spanish colonial architecture. Also, large parts of the old city wall along with one of the city gates and several fortresses are preserved. The town has been kept as a historic site and has been designated by the UN as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Large tree over the walkway outside the old city wall:

View of the bay towards El Morro fortress:

The El Morro fortress is built at the outermost point of the peninsula where Old San Juan is built. Between the fort and the town is a great lawn where locals and tourists were hanging out. A lot of the locals were flying kites:

The lighthouse on top of El Morro:

Bjarne has a great fondness for old cannons:

Félicie in a triangular stairwell in El Morro:

This is what a typical street in Old San Juan looks like. Cobblestones and pastel painted houses with wrought iron balconies:

Another street in different colors:

The entrance ticket to El Morro was also valid for a visit to the other great fortress in San Juan, the San Cristobal fortress. We thought El Morro was large but San Cristobal was even larger. This is the view from San Cristobal:

Another view showing parts of the outer defenses and the waves crashing in from the Atlantic Ocean:

And yet another view:

Lots of cannon balls:

Félicie in front of the entrance to a tunnel connecting the outer parts of the fortress with the inside. To prevent the enemy from entering the fortress through the tunnels in case the outer defenses had failed, the tunnel walls were built with grooves in which explosives could be packed to allow the defenders of the fortress to destroy the tunnel s and kill any enemy soldiers inside it. The bas-relief over the tunnel entrance represents a bomb container with flames coming out of it. It was meant as a warning sign:

View over the outer defenses towards the Capitol building of Puerto Rico and the modern part of San Juan:

The Capitol building again:

A rock iguana enjoying the sun:

We went for a walk along one of the beaches in the Condado area of San Juan:

The area is full of large hotels and restaurants. That day a large number of surfers were in the water, mostly waiting and waiting and waiting for the perfect wave:

Every once in a while one of the guys caught a wave:

San Juan in evening light:

La Fortaleza was the first fort built in San Juan (between 1533 and 1540). However, it was not very strategically located and was thus quickly replaced by other forts, such as El Morro. Instead the building was used as the residence for the govenor of Puerto Rico and still has that function today:

El Morro just before sunset: