In early May, I made my first trip to Puerto Rico to participate in the Tourism Cares for Puerto Rico event. Before the educational sessions and work project got underway, NTA’s Kami Risk and I had a chance to explore the San Juan National Historic Site, which is the only U.S. National Park Service-managed site on the island.
This beautiful park, located in historical Old San Juan, includes two fortresses that overlook the Atlantic Ocean: Castilla San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal. It is an easy, and pretty, 1.2-mile walk along the coast between the two sites.
El Morro, a six-level structure guarding the entry to San Juan Bay, is one of the largest Spanish forts you’ll find in the Caribbean. The elaborate fortification, which dates back to 1539, helped locals monitor any invading warships and unfamiliar vessels that approached the city during more contentious times.
Kami and I particularly enjoyed wandering around Castillo San Cristóbal. Military personnel who called this sprawling series of structures along the eastern edge of the walled city home kept watch for enemies who sought to attack by land. The fortress is a photographer’s dream, as it provides sweeping views of the harbor, the ocean, the back bay and the winding cobblestone streets of Old San Juan.
After exploring San Cristóbal, we sampled another part of the city’s historical legacy by ordering piña coladas at nearby Barrachina Restaurant, which stakes its claim as being the birthplace of the tasty rum drink.
Top photo: Castillo San Cristóbal
Photo by Pat Henderson
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