If you didn’t visit Old San Juan, you can’t say you were in Puerto Rico. With more than 500 years of history, the walled city offers a unique and colorful architectural display. Its cobbled streets invite you to discover, explore, and fall in love with all its corners. You cannot miss this unique historical walk! Here are some recommendations of iconic places to visit that are Insta-worthy #OnPoint:
San Felipe del Morro Castle
El Morro is a 16th-century Spanish fortification built on the northern edge of the capital city of San Juan. Its purpose was to defend the city’s bay from enemies arriving by sea. This castle is impressive for its number of tunnels, canyons, walls, gatehouses, lighthouses, and history. You can take advantage of the guided tours and the outdoors to fly kites. For more information, visit Discover Puerto Rico.
Paseo La Princesa
Hands down one of the most pleasant walks you can enjoy in Old San Juan. The symbolic walk of La Princesa comprises the walled view, lanterns, kiosks of local artisans, the memory of what the Botanical Garden used to be, and the “Raíces” fountain. For more information, head over to the Puerto Rico Tourism Company headquarters.
The oldest theater in Puerto Rico was built in 1832 and named after playwright Alejandro Tapia y Rivera. It is located in front of Plaza Colón and has a neoclassical style of the 19th century with elegant interiors. In addition to its fascinating architectural history, it is popular with visitors curious about the urban legends of ghosts that wander around at night.
Plaza de Armas
Plazas are built in all the island towns, so social, cultural, and political life can revolve around them. Located in the heart of Old San Juan, the plaza is surrounded by hotels, shops, restaurants, and public buildings. It is also found in front of the municipality’s mayor’s office. The statues in the fountain of the square represent “The Four Seasons.”
San Juan Bautista Cathedral
The cathedral was rebuilt in 1529 after being destroyed by a storm. It is located at the Puerta de San Juan, where the ships that arrived in the city used to disembark. It is the oldest church in Puerto Rico, the second oldest in the Americas, and the current seat of the Archdiocese of San Juan. It was also named a minor basilica by Pope Paul VI. In addition to its impressive architecture, it contains the remains of the explorer Juan Ponce de León and the martyr Saint Pio, to whom miracles have been attributed.
Santa Catalina Palace
The palace was built in 1533 to defend the port of San Juan and houses the current residence of the country’s president. The executive mansion is the oldest in the New World; more than 156 governors have lived there. Its name is in honor of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, the patron saint of eloquence, philosophers, and students.
El Convento Hotel
Known as a former Carmelite nuns convent, it was transformed in 1962 into a small luxurious 4-star hotel. It has five floors, a central patio, and the best view of Old San Juan. With more than 365 years of tradition, Hotel El Convento is the oldest member of the Historic Hotels in America program.
Old San Juan has several parking lots available with hourly and/or daily rates: La Puntilla, Doña Fela, El Tótem, Covadonga, Paseo Portuario, La Cochera, among others.
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📍Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport