San Juan National Historic Site (San Juan, Puerto Rico) Guide 2020 : National Parks Navigator

San Juan National Historic Site

What to visit?

This National Historic Site is the fortified part of the City of San Juan settled in 1508. The city and port defenses were built from 1533 to 1898 by the Spanish. The colonial port city of San Juan was central to the Spanish empire in the New World. The city was protected by two main fortresses: Castillo San Felipe del Morro (to protect it from attacks from the sea), Castillo San Cristobal (to protect the city from attack by land) and interconnecting walls that surrounded Old San Juan. Today, the forts remain as well as most of the the walls. Portions of the walls were removed for city expansion in 1897. Such an extensive system of fortifications protected the city from attacks by competing European powers. Old San Juan exhibits strong Spanish influence in the architecture here unlike anything in much of the United States. Narrow streets leading to government buildings, museums, restaurants, shops and art galleries abound. This is a great city for walking with cobblestoned streets with sidewalks. Do not miss a visit to the walkways of La Princesa and El Morro.

How to get to the National Historic Site?

Access to the Old San Juan is by plane, cruise ship or your own boat. Cruise ships dock right in Old San Juan. Rent a car at the airport only eight miles from the old city. See San Juan National Historic Site directions.

Where to Eat?

There are many excellent restauarnts in Old San Juan. Authentic Puerto Rican cuisine can be found at Restaunat Barrachina at 104 Fonteleza Street (birthplace of the pina colada) or try Marmalade at 317 Fortaleza Street. The Cinema Bar 1950 on Norzagaray Street in front of the main entrance to El Morro, is both a cinema and an excellent restaurant. The Arroz estilo Campo for 2 or 4 ( Rice prepared with chicken, skirt steak, pork, Puerto Rican and Spanish sausage and beans) was outstanding. Order appetizers since it takes time to prepare this dish.

Where to stay?

Excellent lodging near this National Park can be found within a short walk of all the sights such as Hotel El Convento and the Sheraton Old San Juan. For a hotel nearby with a beautiful beach try Caribe Hilton San Juan.

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