Capital of Puerto Rico
The Amazing City of San Juan


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

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

Aerial view of Old San Juan


This is the most important of all Puerto Rican cities.

  • Plaza Colon or Columbus Square is at the very entrance of the city. It features a statue of Columbus and a plaque at its pedestal remembering many of his Voyages’ tales.

  • Plaza de Armas on San Jose Street, more than 100 years old has been a meeting place for all ages during generations. It is well planned has four statues representing the Four Seasons.

  • Plaza de San Jose hosts the statue of Ponce de Leon. Plaza de Hostos with its artisan displays as well as Puerto Rican typical foods and the ever present “Piragueros”, vendors selling shaved ice with many syrup flavors.



Capital of Puerto Rico

Plaza de Armas in Old City of San Juan Capital of Puerto Rico

Plaza de Armas in Old City of San Juan Capital of Puerto Rico

  • Plaza del Quinto Centenario was built in 1992 to commemorate the Fifth Centenary of the discovery of America. In the center stands the impressive statue of the “Totem Telurico” by Puerto Rican artist Jaime Suarez. From here you’ll have a great view of El Morro, the Cemetery and the Atlantic Ocean.

  • Plazuela de La Rogativa (procession) has a statue of religious women in a procession commemorating an event that occurred in that place centuries ago when the British tried to conquer the colony.

  • Parque de las Palomas or pigeon’s park at the top of the city wall is a lovely place where I saw many brides and grooms taking their pictures on their way to their Wedding at the Cathedral.
  • La Capilla del Cristo (Christ’s Chapel) built in 1753 on Calle Cristo features beautiful paintings from famous Puerto Rican artist Jose Campeche. Open Tuesdays 10:00 am - 4:00 pm.



The Cathedral of San Juan Capital of Puerto Rico

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.

  • Iglesia de San Jose (St Joseph’s Church) one of the oldest in the Americas is a perfect example of Gothic Architecture of the 16th Century. It's open to the public Mon-Sat 8:30am-4:00 pm and Sun Mass at 12pm  

 

La Fortaleza is the official mansion of the Governor of Puerto Rico

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.

  • La Alcaldia (City Hall) has a heavy Spanish influence. It hosts a tourist information center and some exhibitions. Open Mon-Fri 8:00 am – 4:00 pm.
  • Paseo la Princesa, located is a stylish promenade that hosts a former Spanish prison is now the home of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. It offers breathtaking view of the bay and the old city.



The Fortress of El Morro guarding the entrance to San Juan Bay

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

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 San Juan Puerto Rico

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.

  • La Playita de Condado

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. 

  • Playa Peña

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. 

  • Ocean Park Beach 

A popular beach for both locals and visitors with a more laid back vibe and less crowds than nearby Isla Verde and Condado beach. 

  • Isla Verde Beach, Carolina, PR

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

Map of Old and New San Juan the Capital of Puerto Rico



For more information visit Puerto Rico Tourism Official Website




images credits for the capital of puerto rico

san juan street by jim grossman
aerial san juan by us nat parks
armas by daderot
cathedral n/a
fortaleza by xemdndura
morro by mtmdfan
port by tomas fano
beach n/a

all courtesy of wikimedia commons





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