The UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising Old San Juan in Puerto Rico includes several forts. The two most massive are the fortresses of El Morro and San Cristóbal, built by the Spanish during Colonial times. The immense ramparts of these colossal structures are pierced by a labyrinth of tunnels and passageways.
El Morro across the entrance to San Juan Bay
The most prominent of the two fortresses is El Morro, more fully called the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro. It stands at the end of the headland on which Old San Juan is situated, guarding the entrance to San Juan Bay. The original small fort on the site was built in 1539-40, but in the 18th Century it was expanded beyond all recognition. It now covers an area of more than five acres, with six levels that climb 145 feet up the cliff.
The road up to El Morro
The entrance to El Morro
El Morro’s main courtyard
The upper level of El Morro
Making friends on the upper level of El Morro, with the lighthouse in the background
Looking down on the Santa Barbara Battery, which encloses the original 1539-40 fort
Cannon tracks on the Santa Barbara Battery
Heading down to the Santa Barbara Battery
El Morro’s upper ramparts, with tunnels going in all directions
Down into the original fort
A local cat has found a tunnel of their own!
Room to room
One of the garitas, protected stone sentry boxes
If you thought El Morro was big, the Castillo de San Cristóbal is a monster. Its defences extend over an area of roughly 27 acres! It protects the landward side of the Old San Juan peninsula, and was once connected to El Morro, half a mile away, by a network of sturdy walls that surrounded the city at that time.
Looking from El Morro towards San Cristóbal
The seaward defences of San Cristóbal
San Cristóbal’s main gate
San Cristóbal’s main courtyard, awash with ramps, doors and tunnel entrances
Entering the lower tunnels
Deeper into the San Cristóbal tunnels
Escaped from the lower tunnels
San Cristóbal upper tunnel
Another local with their own tunnel, this time at San Cristóbal
Looking back towards El Morro from the World War II battlement on San Cristóbal
This post was inspired by Cee’s Which Way Challenge and Jo’s Monday Walk.
El Morro from the sea at night, with San Cristóbal in the background (the dark shape on the left)
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