This time two years ago I was in Puerto Rico for the first time. Since then, I’m lucky enough to have been back for a return visit. There’s so much I enjoy about the island, but without doubt my favourite spot is the historic heart of Old San Juan.
Europeans have been living on the site now called Old San Juan for over half a millennia. In 1509, Juan Ponce de León founded the settlement, which was then simply called Puerto Rico. In 1521, it was renamed San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico, which is a bit of a mouthful if you ask me. No doubt people were relieved when demolition began on parts of the city walls in 1897 to enable the expansion of the city, and they could start calling the original part Old San Juan.
Most of Old San Juan’s buildings date back to the 16th and 17th Centuries, including the two massive fortresses of Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal (which deserve separate future postings of their own – watch this space!). As a consequence, it is considered the oldest settlement on Puerto Rico and one of the most ancient colonial cities in the New World.
The San Juan National Historic Site was defined in 1949. It was included on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1966, before being promoted to a National Historic Landmark District in 2013.
Internationally, Old San Juan has been considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1983.
This post was inspired by this week’s Cee’s Which Way Challenge.
While you’re daydreaming about wandering down Old World streets in the New World, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?
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