San Juan the Capital of Puerto Rico, has been the inspiration of many poets and songwriters for decades.
Old San Juan is one of the neighborhoods of the capital city of Puerto Rico, as well as the commercial centers of Santurce and Rio Piedras the banking district of Hato Rey and the residential and tourist sector of El Condado, among others.
Typical narrow street in Old San Juan Puerto Rico
The most visited site among tourist visiting Puerto Rico is Old San Juan. For many years we worked in this picturesque walled city and I can tell you that driving every morning bordering the Atlantic Ocean and past the Capitol reaching Old San Juan, was an inspiration.
It is by far the most visited site by tourists arriving to Puerto Rico. It is also known as the oldest city under the American Flag, and the second oldest of the Americas after Santo Domingo in the the Republica Dominicana.
Old San Juan was founded in 1521 in the site it occupies now is one of the Caribbean’s best natural harbors. It is a very important port for Cargo and many Cruise Lines offering Puerto Rico as one of their stops on many Caribbean Cruises.
Aerial view of Old San Juan
This is the most important of all Puerto Rican cities.
Plaza de Armas in Old City of San Juan Capital of Puerto
The Cathedral of San Juan Capital of Puerto Rico
La Catedral de San Juan was originally built as a wooden
church in 1521. Destroyed many times by hurricanes fires and lootings and was
rebuilt every time. The Building we enjoy today is the result of major
restoration in 1917.
It holds services regularly and it’s open for tours from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm.
La Fortaleza is the official mansion of the Governor of Puerto Rico
La Fortaleza also known as El Palacio de Santa Catalina built in the middle of the 16th century, has undergone many restorations to its colonial building and its beautiful gardens.
Although the name implies Fortress it is actually the Official residence of the Governor and has hosted hundreds of governors throughout the centuries. Open for free tours Mon – Fri 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
The Fortress of El Morro guarding the entrance to San Juan Bay
At the very tip of the small peninsula of this walled city you can visit the imposing and dignified fortress of El Morro, rising 140 feet above the sea. Its thick walls are visited by most of the tourists visiting Puerto Rico. Locals use the big gardens for picnics, games and all kind of passive recreation.
We take a stroll through Fortaleza and San Francisco streets with its Jewelry stores and Tourist souvenirs. Many fine restaurants are located in the old city.
San Juan Port is one of the busiest in the world
Now we leave the Old City through the area or Puerta de Tierra and can visit the Capitol a replica of the one in Washington DC. It’s the home of the Senate on one wing and the House of Representatives on the other.
Guided tours by appointment only Mon – Fri 8:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Before entering back to “New San Juan” you can enjoy Parque Muñoz Rivera with large trees, spacious walks and an impressive view of the Atlantic Ocean.
I hope you enjoyed our tour to Old San Juan. I can assure you that you’ll go back to visit on future Puerto Rico Travel.
Beaches of the Capital of Puerto Rico
If you’re looking for a beach escape with a vibrant city life, San Juan has it down to perfection. San Juan is one of the most accessible and affordable beach escapes in the Caribbean.
Playita del Condado is a small beach with aquamarine blues and city views. If you’re traveling with small children, you may want to visit La Playita in Condado, a small beach that makes up for it with calm waters safe for swimming and playing.
A secret little gem right across from the Capitol Building, just pass the San Cristobal Fortress. Once here, you’ll forget you’re in a major city, you may be sharing this beach with a few other couples.
A popular beach for both locals and visitors with a more laid back vibe and less crowds than nearby Isla Verde and Condado beach.
Although not in the city of San Juan, Isla Verde is a long wide beach in the nearby town of Carolina, popular for water sports, jogging, and swimming on its calmer waters.
Map of Old and New San Juan the Capital of Puerto Rico
images credits for the capital of puerto rico
san juan street by jim grossman
aerial san juan by us nat parks
armas by daderot
fortaleza by xemdndura
morro by mtmdfan
port by tomas fano
all courtesy of wikimedia commons
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