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San Juan National Historic Park

Puerto Rico, Carribbean

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San Juan National Historic Park

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  • The dark tunnels of San Cristobal.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Entrance to the plaza of San Cristobal.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • View out one of the many casemates in San Cristobal.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Impressive architecture surrounding the plaza of San Cristobal.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • The San Cristobal plaza.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • View to the northwest of Old San Juan from San Cristobal.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Ramp to the rooftop level of San Cristobal.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Endless archways in San Cristobal.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Endless archways in San Cristobal.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • View of Old San Juan from an overlook in San Cristobal.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • View of the San Cristobal Plaza and its rain water cisterns from the rooftop level.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • View to the southeast from San Cristobal's rooftop.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Close-up view to the southeast from San Cristobal's rooftop.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Circular staircase exit on the rooftop of San Cristobal.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Rainwater cisterns on the rooftop of San Cristobal.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • View over the plaza and Old San Juan from San Cristobal's rooftop.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • View through an embrasure on the rooftop of San Cristobal.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Ancient cannon pedestal on the rooftop of San Cristobal.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • View of the coastline and the fortress defense wall to the northwest of San Cristobal toward del Morro.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Coastal observation post addition during WWII on San Cristobal's rooftop.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Impressive architecture surrounding the plaza of San Cristobal.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Ancient San Cristobal plaza entrance gate.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Endless archways in San Cristobal.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Old San Juan.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Cemetery below San Felipe del Morro.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Kite flying is a popular activity at San Felipe del Morro.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • View of the coastline and the defense wall to the southeast toward San Cristobal.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • One of many garitas at San Felipe del Morro.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • The lighthouse atop the impressive walls of San Felipe del Morro.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Close up of a garita atop San Felipe del Morro.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Iguanas frequent the park.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • The plaza of San Felipe del Morro.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • The ramp to the lower mezzanine of San Felipe del Morro enabled transportation of heavy artillery and ammunition.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • View overlooking the paseo del morro (walkway) from the mezzanine of San Felipe del Morro.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Ancient cannon situated in one of the many embrasures on the lower mezzanine of San Felipe del Morro.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • Garita on the lower mezzanine of San Felipe del Morro.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • The lower mezzanine of San Felipe del Morro.- San Juan National Historic Park
  • The lighthouse atop San Felipe del Morro.- San Juan National Historic Park
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Substantial history. Coastal vistas. Historic architecture.
Cons: 
Crowds.
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Region:
Puerto Rico, CB
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
No
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Park entrance fee
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

San Juan National Historic Site on the island of Puerto Rico is an impressive display of 16th-century architecture that is filled with history and spectacular coastal views. It is made up of multiple components including the Castillo San Cristóbal, the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, most of the old San Juan city walls, the San Juan Gate, and Fort San Juan de la Cruz. A marvel that took over 150 years to complete, this defensive fort was constructed by the Spanish primarily to defend the city of Old San Juan. Today, San Cristóbal is considered the largest Spanish fortress of the Americas.  

Castillo San Cristóbal is the hub of the site, and it has a substantial visitor center and theater. The fort was originally constructed to defend Old San Juan from an attack by land. There are multiple defensive tunnels throughout the fort that were strategically constructed to provide the safe movement of soldiers and supplies. This is also where the dungeon is located. There is original grafiti by an unknown prisoner still visible on the wall. The plaza of San Cristóbal is surrounded by archways where troops would hold drills and formal events would be held. Ancient rainwater cisterns would hold up to 800,000 gallons, and these are still used today for park maintenance. The third rooftop level allows views of Old San Juan and the majestic coastline. There are many cannon embrasures; this fort once housed 450 of them. A couple of additions were made during WWII including a coastal observation post and a bunker (where the visitor center is now located).

From San Cristóbal, it is a short walk to Castillo San Felipe del Morro on the northwest side of Old San Juan. There is a walkway along the defense wall where multiple sentry boxes (garitas) can be seen. Note the brightly colored buildings of Old San Juan. 

An expansive grassy area surrounds Castillo San Felipe del Morro with cemeteries on the lower levels. A smaller plaza is found here with a lighthouse on the rooftop. An impressive ramp descends to a mezzanine filled with cannon embrasures. There is a walkway surrounding the fort along the coastline. This fort was designed to guard the entrance to the bay.

There are multiple informational plaquards located throughout the park that detail significant historical facts regarding the fortress. Visitors can enjoy viewing the spectacular architecture of these old stone buildings, imagine what it would be like standing guard in a sentry box, overlook the many above-ground burials, or even just fly a kite in the constant breeze.

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