Thursday, July 4, 2013

Vacation: Old San Juan Puerto Rico

Located in the North Coast of the island of Puerto Rico 
is Old San Juan.  Known for it's blue Cobblestone streets 
which date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, 
Old San Juan is one of my favorite historical
vacations spots in the world. Here is just a glimpse 
of this historical city in Puerto Rico,
"La Isla Del Encanto" (The Island of Enchantment).

Old San Juan Wall
 Old San Juan, an island that lies 
on the north coast of Puerto Rico was a 
Spanish possession in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Old San Juan is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, 
and San Juan Bay to the south.   To protect the city from invaders
back in the day, a large 42 foot high and 45 foot thick wall/citadel was built.
I took the photo above during our stroll through Paseo Del Morro
which is the Promenade in Old San Juan. The wall is very impressive and to say it is massive
is an understatement. 

The "Gate" to the city: La Puerta de la Ciudad
 To further guard the city from Pirates, Dutch, English, and American invaders,
Doors were built and locked during the night.  This is the main door along
el Paseo del Morro.  The date on the door reads, 1749.

Look Out Tower/ Sentry Box 
"Garitas" as they are known in Puerto Rico
Numerous Look Out towers are located alongside the massive city wall.

Here we are in front of one of the towers located directly in front of THE DOOR.
You can see a bit of San Juan Bay in the background. 
 Spanish Soldiers used these towers to take shelter from the weather, 
as well as to stand guard in search of invaders crossing the waters on both sides
 attempting to attack the city.
 As you make your way alongside the city wall
on Paseo  del Morro, the site that lies ahead in the distance
can be most definitely considered "the Piece de Resistance."
 Yes, I'm referring to Castillo San Felipe Del Morro or "El Morro" as it is known.
Named in honor of Spain's King Phillip II, Castillo San Felipe Del Morro
 which translates to El Morro Fort in English, is 
located on the headland overlooking the entrance to San Juan Bay, and was built 
for the sole purpose of protecting the city from its seaborn enemies. 
The fort was constructed in 1539 and then reinforced in 1587 to a more
fortified design. While we visited El Morro, I must have taken over 1000 plus pictures.  In the following pictures, you will see a minute glimpse of this most amazing
historical site.

 El Morro Fort in the distance...

  From this vantage point, one begins to assume that 
what awaits is far beyond GRAND!
 The entrance to San Cristobal del Morro Fort.
The erosion and decay from the sea air and salty ocean water is
 present in and around the walls of the fort; most definitely, a true 
indication of the age of this fascinating structure.

Las Tres Banderas (The Three Flags)
 Once you enter the Plaza Principal or Main level, you are greeted
by Las Tres Banderas (Three Flags), the Flag of Puerto Rico in the center,
the United States Flag on the right,and the Burgundy Cross flag which was 
the Spanish Millitary Flag that flew during most of the Spanish Colonial Period.

 To give you a better depiction of the grandeur of this most amazing structure, I have included this photo diagram which shows the various sections of the massive fort.

 Here are a few more pictures of El Morro de San Cristobal.  I hope these photographs encourage you to visit this beautiful fort in what I consider one of my favorite historical places on earth.

View from the Plaza Principal looking out towards San Juan Bay, 
and beyond towards the Atlantic.
These steps lead down from the Plaza Principal onto the first floor
or the fort.

Standing on the first floor with the Atlantic in the background.  
Those open slats you see were used as placement for canons where soldiers awaited for standoffs
 against invading ships coming into San Juan Bay. 

This picture shows an open slat facing San Juan Bay. 

The Loophole...

Garitas/ Sentry Boxes 

These sentry boxes have become one of the symbols of Puerto Rico.
They can even be found on Puerto Rican license plates.
Our little one inside one of the sentry boxes 
overlooking San Juan Bay on one side 
and the Atlantic on the other... 

Inside one of the lower levels of El Morro...

The reddish clay walls have a damp feel 
to them.  

  This photograph depicts how strongly fortified this structure was intended to be.
My daughter and I are in the lower right hand corner of this picture, and in 
comparison to the scale of the wall, we are miniature.

The opening to the two tunnels behind us are even larger in person.

 Life on the fort was not easy, and as you can see, the architecture 
of this fortification was precisely constructed to fit the needs of 
its solider residents. 

It is evident from the picture of this staircase, everything was built 
from materials readily available during that period of time.

My hubby and our princess inside the staircase...
Paying close attention to the height of the doorway, one can make the assumption
that the Spanish Soldiers were not very tall.  My hubby had a to duck most a lot
during our time at the fort.

View from one of the higher levels of the fort looking out towards the San Juan, 
the capital of Puerto Rico.
There is so much more to see in Old San Juan.  From the blue cobblestone
streets that Christopher Columbus built to Ponce De Leon's tomb inside the 
Cathedral de San Juan, this port city is filled with history.  I hope the glimpse I
provided in these shots will encourage you to pay a visit to the wonder that is Old San Juan.

Happy Fourth of July!

**All photographs are the sole property of  No unathorized use.


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  1. Old San Juan is beautiful and interesting. Your pictures of the fort are wonderful. ~Zuni

  2. Betty,
    San Juan is beautiful, your pix are wonderful! Visited there in the late 70's and loved it.
    I lived in Cal, Orange County, till in my 30's, then moved to the South, NC, then WI and now TN. Love it back here but do miss CA. My Family's still out there so I do get to visit every now and then. Thanks for stopping by, I'm your newest follower also and will be back!