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Day 12 - San Juan Puerto Rico

When & Where

semi-overcast 82 °F

We rolled into the San Juan harbor a little later than normal....the port was actually choppy and they had the decks blocked off for a little while until we had gotten past the opening of the San Juan port.

The weather was partly cloudy, and a temperature of 82 °F. As we were pulling in, we past Oasis of the Seas, which was already docked.

I was quite surprised how easy it was to venture around San Juan. Having been here many times before with the airline, I had never been in Old Town area, so I was pretty excited. Some of the tropical forests were still devastated by the hurricanes from the year before, so walking around Old Town was good enough for me.

Originally called "La Ciudad Amurallada", San Juan was founded in 1508 by Ponce de León and is the second oldest city in the Americas. To protect the transportation of gold, silver and jewels, on the route from American to Spain, the Spaniards built a series of forts, still seen today. No visit is complete without the legendary El Morro and La Fortaleza forts, nestled in Old San Juan where the massive walls protected it from the enemy.

Considered the Gibraltar of the West Indies, this area was once a walled city surrounded by multiple forts to protect access to the Spanish Main. As a military foothold the city endured many attacks by the Dutch and British, some of which proved partially successful. In fact, in 1596 the British took over Puerto Rico for 65 days. The population of San Juan continued to grow within the city walls until the late 19th century, when the island of Puerto Rica was ceded to the U.S. at the conclusion of the Spanish-American War.

Despite every effort to the contrary, many of these fortifications remain intact, giving the impression of traveling back in time as you explore its many plazas, churches and gardens. Moreover, Puerto Rico may be part of the U.S., but its music, culture and cuisine are unique fusion of indigenous Taino culture with European and African influences. Modern day San Juan encompasses a vast metropolis complete with several unique neighborhoods, which allows access to Spanish fiestas, African music and architecture reminiscent of Buenos Aires or Seville, all within one city.

Do be careful walking around in Old San Juan as there are still cobblestone streets which have been worn to a blue patina and bright flower boxes that adorn windows. San Juan is also home to the famed Bacardi rum distillery. As you do walk around, be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes, take a bottled water, sun glasses and maybe an umbrella since you never know when an afternoon shower will open up.

I spent majority of the day at the fort. Here's a little timeline to let you know why San Juan is so important.

  • 1493 - Columbus' 2nd voyage sights Puerto Rico
  • 1508 - Ponce de León starts Spanish colony
  • 1511 - Native Taino Indians revolt
  • 1521 - San Juan city founded
  • 1533 - La Fortaleza, first fortification started
  • 1539 - Castillo San Felipe del Morro Started
  • 1595 - First English attack, Sir Francis Drake
  • 1598 - Second English attack, Sir George Clifford
  • 1608 - Fortin San Juan de la Cruz (El Cañuelo) started
  • 1625 - Dutch attack, Boudwyn Hendrick
  • 1634 - San Juan city wall started Castillo San Cristóbal started
  • 1660 - El Cañuelo re-built
  • 1783 - Castillo San Cristóbal, major construction completed
  • 1790 - Castillo San Felipe del Morro, major construction completed; San Juan city wall completed
  • 1797 - British attack, Sir Ralph Abercromby
  • 1897 - Part of city wall torn down to expand San Juan
  • 1898 - Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico becomes U.S. Territory
  • 1899 - San Juan Military Reservation established
  • 1943 - Name change to Ft. Brooke honors first American governor
  • 1949 - San Juan National Historic Site established
  • 1983 - World Heritage Site designated

(info from the National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior, San Juan Historic Site map)

So after a full day of learning some great history and doing tons of walking, finally headed back to the ship, where Oasis of the Seas had departed, and a Viking ship was docked.

Until Next Time,

Posted by Sluggoaafa 19:43 Archived in USA Tagged vacation san america holland rotterdam juan carribean hal

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