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Exploring the Historical Sites of Puerto Rico

April 14, 2012

Puerto RicoThe Caribbean island of Puerto Rico has a long and fascinating history. Because it is located right in the middle of the “New World” it has been a target of conquest for many centuries.

Christopher Columbus landed on the island in 1493, on his second voyage of discovery. It was later settled by the Spanish explorer known as Ponce de Leon and was under possession by the Spanish for over 400 years.

At the end of the Spanish American war, the island of Puerto Rico became United States territory due to the Treaty of Paris.

There are many battlements and fortifications throughout Puerto Rico, built to protect the island from its many invaders.

These are very interesting places on the island that reveal fascinating stories about the past. Here are some of the best historical sites:

 Castillo de San Cristobal

This Spanish fort is the largest ever fortification built by the Spanish in the New World. It was constructed in 1783 to protect the city of San Juan from attacks, and it covers approximately 27 acres of land wrapping all around the city of San Juan.

The fortress is perched upon a hill called the Cerro de San Cristobal, named after the Spanish victory ejecting the English and the Dutch interlopers from the island of the same name in the Lesser Antilles.

This fort is truly an amazing historical building to explore, and includes an extensive underground tunnel system, an artillery observation post, and real 200 pound mortar shells.

Fort San Felipe del Morro

Also known as Morro Castle, this is a 16th century citadel that makes a great day trip from any Puerto Rico resort as it is located just within the city of San Juan. 

The fortification, named after King Phillip of Spain, was designed to guard the city of San Juan from enemy attacks from the sea. Over two million people per year visit this historical site, making it one of the major attractions in Puerto Rico.

The castle is considered an official UNESCO World Heritage Site and as a “must-see” while you are in Puerto Rico.

Fortin San Juan de la Cruz

Fortin San Juan de la CruzThis tiny fort is not as large as the other historical sites, but it is just as interesting. It is located on Isla de Cabras, right at the entrance to the San Juan bay.

It was placed here to create a strategic location for crossfire at any invading ships, and its location ensured complete artillery coverage of the area.

Apparently, there used to be a long chain which was stretched from Fortin San Juan de la Cruz to the Fort San Felipe del Morro, which would create a physical barrier and stop ships from coming into the harbor.

The fort was also in an important location for guarding the Bayamon River. The square building was built in the 1600s and although the interior is closed to the public you can walk around the walls.

These are just a few of the fascinating historical sites that you can visit while exploring the beautiful island of Puerto Rico.  

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