Old San Juan, Puerto Rico: Forts El Morro and San Cristobal

Old San Juan Street


Be Sure And Visit Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 during his second voyage to the New World. Puerto Rico has one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean. I have visited this country twice now, and each time I go, I am more impressed with the climate (averages 80 degrees year round) and the people who live here, and of course, the beautiful country. Puerto Ricans call their island, The Enchanted Island. If you spend time here, you will know why they call their home that. When you visit Puerto Rico don’t miss seeing one of the biggest attractions: Old San Juan.

www.Wikipedia source of my information

Plan To Spend One Day In Old San Juan

I would suggest you plan on spending the entire day in Old San Juan. There is so much to see there, and so much history to appreciate. About 2 million people a year come here to see this beautiful, historical city. Old San Juan is on a small narrow island in the North Coast 35 miles from the east end of Puerto Rico, and is joined to the mainland of Puerto Rico by three bridges. As soon as we entered the city in our car, we saw lots of locals gathered around in groups, singing and playing guitars. They were celebrating some kind of festival. The Puerto Ricans are always singing and celebrating something!

We later found out there was a Festival of the Horses! So we were treated to a parade of many beautiful Paso Fino horses. These horses are so beautiful with their prized smooth gait. The Paso Fino was imported to the Caribbean from Spain.

While in Puerto Rico, we saw many riders on their horses in the streets. Drivers of cars just let them have the right-of-way.

Wear Comfortable Shoes When Visiting Old San Juan

Old San Juan has beautiful old streets made of blue cobblestones, and is lined with the stone buildings dating back to the 16th and 17thcentury when Puerto Rico was a Spanish possession. Old San Juan has the atmosphere of colonial Spain with its pastel colored houses, filigreed balconies, and narrow streets. Several historic structures and museums are there, including a statute of Juan Ponce de Leon. The statute is made of bronze cannons. The streets are very narrow, the cars that do try to travel the streets move so slowly, it is very hard to drive around the city. It is better to walk. Just wear comfortable shoes! If you get tired of walking, there is a trolley that is fun to ride. You can hope off and on again whenever you want.

All along at the trolley stops, you see vendors under their umbrellas selling all kinds of Puerto Rican food, and there is plenty of liquid to drink. After shopping at the many little shops along the streets, we had lunch at one of the sidewalk cafes. I sampled a Puerto Rican dish (with chicken and black beans with rice, of course).

Flags Flying Over The Forts In Old San Juan


In The 1940s Some Old Buildings Were Razed In Old San Juan

At one time during the 1940’s the city’s buildings were in such bad condition, some of the locals authorities wanted to just tear down the old buildings, and replace them with completely modern architecture. The Government Bank of Puerto Rico provided low cost loans to those owners who wanted to restore their buildings. Some owners did not want to renovate their buildings, and a lot of the old structures were razed. Old San Juan is known for its many public plazas. The oldest part of Old San Juan remains partly enclosed by massive stone walls.

Fort San Cristobal

This fort stands on a hill at the edge of Old San Juan. This 27 acre fortification was the largest ever built by the Spanish in the New World. It was constructed in 1783. The first shot of the Spanish-American War in Puerto Rico was fired from this fort in 1898.

Arial View of Fort Cristobal


Arial View Of Fort El Morro


El Morro


The first thing you see is a grassy area about a quarter of a mile long to the entrance of the Fort. This area is usually filled with children flying kites and people walking their dogs. This Fort was the most strategic of San Juan’s defense system. El Morrow repelled attacks by the British, Dutch and French for the course of 300 years. A network of ramps and stairways lead up to a beautiful harbor view. Construction began in 1539, and was completed in 1878.

The first shots of World War I were fired from the Fort of El Morrow in 1915. There was a German supply ship that tried to force its way out of the bay to deliver supplies to the German submarines that were waiting in the Atlantic Ocean. After the U.S, fired on the German ship, the Odenwald, it was forced to return, and its supplies were confiscated by the United States.

During World War II, the United States Army added a massive concrete bunker at the top of El Morrow so they could keep watch for the German submarines in the Caribbean. In 1961 the U. S. Army retired from El Morrow. The Fort became a part of the National Park service at that time. El Morrow was used in the filming of Armistad.

Grassy Entrance To El Morro


Informational Sign For Visitors About El Morro


Information Sign For Visitors About El Morro


One Of The Original Cannons Used At El Morro


View From The Top Of El Morro


Another View Looking Down From Fort El Morro


A Street In Old San Juan


You Are In Another World In Old San Juan!

When you enter into Old San Juan, it's as though you have stepped back in time hundreds of years ago. Just to walk the bue cobblestone streets, and look at the different colored shops with their filigreed balconies gives you an appreciation for the history and the beauty behind this old city.

You are SO glad you took the time to visit Old San Juan!

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Books From Amazon About Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican Day Parade

© 2012 Mary Hyatt

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Comments 30 comments

Mara 4 years ago

Nice hub! I would LOVE to visit PR. Old San Juan looks like a beautiful place. The horses are beautiful and the parade looks like a lot of fun! Thanks for sharing!

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Mara, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my Hub about Old San Juan. Yes, the Paso Finos are quite beautiful. I love to see them walk or trot. Goodnight.

Agnes Penn profile image

Agnes Penn 4 years ago from Nicholson, Pennsylvania, USA

Mary, you were given a treat with the Paso Finos. I love those horses. They were bred so that if a person holds a glass of wine the horse's trot is so even that not a drop will spill from the cup. The actual Paso Fino breed was established in the island with a cross from different spanish horse breeds.

I miss my island so. Every Christmas we'd visit Old San Juan and I loved the cobblestoned roads. And flying kites at El Morro was a must, but back then there were trees that the hurricanes later took away.

Except for the NY parade that you included everything else reminds me of home. After my family left in 1979 it seemed to us the island got so crowded. If you go inland you'll find it more quiet. I'm glad you enjoyed your stay. Always a pleasure to read your hubs.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, Agnes Penn. Glad my Hub reminded you of home. I have been here for one month now, and still are enjoying my stay. I think I'll come back next winter for 3 months. I'm working on a Hub now on the many reasons I love Puerto Rico, with lots of photos! We drove down to Ponce the other day, That was a beautiful trip. PR will become even more crowded I think because it's been "discovered" for many reasons. I'm off for another adventure today in this beautiful Enchanted Island. I'll be thinking of you!

Agnes Penn profile image

Agnes Penn 4 years ago from Nicholson, Pennsylvania, USA

I hope you enjoy Ponce. The Bacardi castle and the view from the giant cross from where you can see both north and southern shores. May God bless your trip and have fun!

Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 4 years ago

You are pushing my buttons to put together a hub about my last trip. This was magnificent. The pictures are awesome! Captain Morgan Should've read this hub before attacking the Island. Back in the days, its inhabitants were descendant from the 'tainos' who greeted Christopher Columbus in 1492. Thanks for taking your time in putting this hub together.



drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Hi, Mary. This is a lovely hub of Puerto Rico and especially the Old City of San Juan which is truly an enchanted city on an enchanted island. Thanks for the interesting info and the photos.

Now that you have been there for a month your Spanish must be perfect. Entiende usted el Espanol? Un poco?

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Lord, I'm so glad you liked my effort on writing a Hub on Old San Juan, Puerto Rico! I do wish I knew a little Spanish. Looks like you certainly know the language. Fortunately, the people who live here speak both English and Spanish. Good to see you!

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Well hello, The Finance Hub, thanks for reading and commenting on my Hub about Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. I really like it here. I only have one more week before I have to go home to Florida. Thanks for the vote UP, too. Yes, I'll look forward to reading your work, too. Have a good day.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, drbj, NO, I haven't learned any Spanish, except for "gracias". Thankfully, these people who live here know English and Spanish. It would help if I knew some Spanish. We rented a car, and we couldn't read the road signs. We just guessed! I working on another one about why I like Puerto Rico. Watch for that one, OK? Don't know what "un poco" means. The beginning was "Do you speak Spanish?" , right? See you again soon, I hope.

Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

Beautiful pix supporting this great hub.

Gotta visit this country now...so rich in culture and beauty.

Voted up as useful, mary :)

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Ruchira, thanks for reading and commenting on my Hub on Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Thanks, too for the vote. Purto Rico is truly a beautiful place. You would love it! Goodnight.

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Your photos are gorgeous and the information perfect. I am so glad you went and shared your adventure with us. However I will be glad to go on the next trip and carry your luggage!

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi Hyphenbird, you are most welcome to come along with me next time. I wrote another Hub on the reasons I love Puerto Rico. I'm still here, but must return home next week, I'm afraid. I have fallen in love with PR. Thanks for reading and commenting, and for the nice compliment. Goodnight.

Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina

Great travel hub and I love the photos and all the history that you included.

Thanks for sharing this. Voted up across the board except for funny.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hello, HBN. Thanks so much for reading my Hub about Puerto Rico. I really loved this place. Thanks for the votes, too. You're a true and loyal follower: thanks!

nvmthename 4 years ago

Mary, I just thought you would like to know that your labels for your aerial views are on the wrong forts. I'm sure it was an accident as the photos from in Fort Morro are labeled correctly. :) Feel free to delete this, just thought I would give you a heads up.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Thanks! I appreciate your calling that to my attention. I will try to correct that. Thanks for reading.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Mary,

Terrific hub about a place that I would very much like to visit someday. I had no idea that Old San Juan was actually on an island off the mainland island. Blue cobblestone streets! Wonder what the blue color comes from...what type of rocks? Your photos are really good. That old cannon is quite a relic from the picture. Many up votes and sharing.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Peggy W. From what I understand the "new San Juan" was built many years after Old San Juan. Hmmm, I don't know about the color of blue and why?? I should research that.

Thanks so much for the votes and the share. I appreciate that so much.

MyMastiffPuppies profile image

MyMastiffPuppies 4 years ago

Thanks for sharing such a wonderful part of history and culture. The pics are awesome, voted up across the board! Would love to visit one day!

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, MyMastiffPuppies. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment on my Hub about Old San Juan. I would like to have spent more time in this old city. There was so much to see and do there.

Yes, you should visit Puerto Rico. It is a wonderful place. I'm anxious to return.

Thanks for the votes. I do appreciate that.

Liz Walmoth 4 years ago

What a wonderful trip through San Juan! I love those narrow streets. You have written a wonderful hub about this great old city.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi Liz, Thanks for reading about Old San Juan. We really didn't spend enough time in this beautiful old city. The next time I go I will spend more time.

Thanks for the nice compliment on my Hub, Mary

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa

Wonderful hub. I really enjoyed my visit to Old San Juan and the fort. There are some incredible views from the fort.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi DeborahNeyens. Thanks for the nice compliment on my Hub about Old San Juan. I really enjoyed seeing this old city and the forts. I'm looking forward to going back there one of these days.

Thanks again for your support of my work, Deborah.

markcrosby 2 years ago from United States

Thanks for sharing this article! I've always wanted to visit Puerto Rico.

mary615 profile image

mary615 2 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Mark. I hope you will visit Puerto Rico....you won't be sorry. There is so much to do and see there. I've been back twice since I wrote these Hubs about PR, and I enjoyed the place all over again.

Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 23 months ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Mary,

Revisited this hub again and just dreaming of being in a place like that right now. We will have temperatures in the mid-20's tonight! Most unusual but the cold blast from up north has reached this far south. Fortunately we do not have temperatures like this very often in the Houston winter months. Sharing once again and will give it a tweet as well.

mary615 profile image

mary615 23 months ago from Florida Author

Oh, Peggy, I feel for you! Our temps today got up into the high 70's. I'd sure like to go back to Puerto Rico, and I still dream and wish for the day I could move there.

Thanks for reading this again, and for the share and Tweet.

Goodnight, Mary (Stay warm).

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