As soon as I set foot on San Juan Puerto Rico's pier, I saw a rush of tourists who were already on their way to different destinations. There were sidewalk vendors that sell all kinds of stuff from souvenirs, food and drinks and what not. I can hear the loud voices of the tour operators as they holler on tourists to avail of their offers. There is also a 4-star hotel and a whole strip of modern shops, boutiques, others being high end brands that are easily accessible. Amidst the highly urbanized city of San Juan in Puerto Rico still lies the walled city of Old San Juan. Here are some of the places that I have stumbled upon when I went on a walk on the streets of Old San Juan.
Paseo de la Princesa
It is a long stretch of footpath with decorative lamp posts and trees that are lined up on both sides. Listen to the sound of the parrots and see it fly freely from branch to branch as you walk along. At the end of the promenade was the majestic Raices (Roots) Fountain having San Juan Bay at the background. The fountain was completed in May 1992; it was made up of bronze sculptured-statues honoring Puerto Rico’s diverse heritage.
Entrance to the City of Old San Juan (La Puerta San Juan – San Juan Gate)
This enormous red-walled gate is the last of the remaining principal gates in San Juan. During the 1500s – 1800s dignitaries arriving from Spain pass through this gate. It was strategically placed facing San Juan Bay to serve as the city’s protection against invaders.
Cathedral of San Juan Bautista (Catedral Metropolitana Basílica de San Juan Bautista)
It is the first cathedral church in the Western Hemisphere. The original cathedral made of wood was built in 1521 but was destroyed due to a hurricane. The stone structure was erected in 1540 and had undergone repairs and remodeling until 1917. It was ingeniously constructed just a few steps away from the entrance to the city so voyagers during the olden days can go to the cathedral and say their prayers.
Now, it is where the tomb of the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon can be found. A grand cathedral with high ceilings that have an intricate design; there are several spaces with small altars and stained glass windows. In any place I go to, I look for the old churches to visit most of the time, the older the better. I would say that I have a special admiration for old churches due its architectural design and its craftsmanship. It makes me wonder how they were able to build it during that time.
Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery
Puerto Rico’s well-known sons and daughters lie in this cemetery. It was built in 1863, located next to Fort San Felipe del Morro and named in honor of Saint Maria Magdalena de Pazzi. The cemetery surely is a peaceful resting place as it is right at the edge of a cliff watching over the immense Atlantic Ocean.
Streets of Old San Juan
Travel back to the olden days as you wander the streets on Old San Juan. The city is characterized by the blue cobblestone roads and colorful buildings made up of bricks and stones. Artistic paintings on the outside walls are also an added attraction and it has similar doorways on almost every building.
Plaza de Armas
Found in San Jose Street, it is one of the main squares in the city marked by the “Four Seasons Fountain” – a round fountain with four statues made of marble symbolizing the four seasons, winter, spring, summer and autumn.
Parque de las Palomas
There are pigeons everywhere in San Juan, but it was in this park where they have found shelter. I haven’t seen that much pigeon in my life and they were there by the hundreds on the ground, above the trees, on the walls. It is right beside Capilla Del Santo Cristo inside a fenced park overlooking San Juan Bay. If you raise your hand with bread or any food, these birds will fly to you and take it; most of the time it will perch on your arms, shoulders and even on your head. Warning: Don’t stay too long under the tree, you might catch pigeon droppings. 🙂
Capilla Del Santo Cristo
Right next to Parque Las Palomas at the end Calle del Cristo is this small chapel at the edge of a cliff. It was built in 1753 by Baltazar Montanez to give back after his life was saved from falling off the same cliff. Today, people go to the chapel hoping for miracles.
I know that San Juan, Puerto Rico is in the Caribbean but it didn’t feel like it, it was like I have been transported to Europe while walking on its streets. It is generally safe in the Old City as there was high police visibility in the tourist-drawn areas.
Stroll around the city and you’ll surely relish every step you’ll be making on those cobblestones. Foodies would also be in heaven when they visit this old city as there are a lot of food options and establishments that will titillate their taste buds. Watch out for that.
Would you like to go back in time and relive history?
Liked this post? Pin it and Share it!