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If you enjoy history than finding what to do in Puerto Rico on your vacation will not be difficult. Puerto Rico boasts some of the most interesting history from the middle New World. Visiting many of the fort settlements, constructed by the Spanish to protect from British and French invaders, will give you a look into Puerto Rico’s violent history.
El Vigía Cross in Ponce
The Vigía Cross is a monument that serves as a reminder of Ponce’s importance in early Puerto Rican history as an important port to the Americas and the Old World. The cross was constructed in remembrance of an old watch house that existed once in the area. It served as a watch point for incoming vessels and ships (sometimes hostile) towards the Ponce bay. You can take an elevator to the top of the cross from where you can see a beautiful panoramic view of the entire city of Ponce. Park is open from 9:30AM to 5:30PM weekdays and some holidays. Admission to El Vigía is around $4 adults, $2 children and seniors 65 – 74, free for 75 and older.
Serrallés Castle in Ponce
Located right next to the Vigía Cross is the Serrallés house museum. This old mansion was once the home of the Serrallés Family. Restored to its original façade of early 19th century, the house serves as a reflection of the culture of Puerto Rico by the 1920’s. The house is also home to a Japanese Garden, an intricate garden filled with beautiful designs and flower arrangements. The Castle is open from 9:30AM through 5:30PM every day during Christmas time, Tuesday through Sunday rest of the year. Admission is around $6 adults, $3 children and students. There is also a tour that includes the Vigía Cross for $9 adults and $4 children.
Hacienda Buena Vista in Ponce
The Buena Vista Hacienda is a preserved coffee plantation hacienda dating the early stages of the Puerto Rican industrialization age. The hacienda has several structures and exhibits that show how the coffee was extracted and prepared, and is considered one of the best preserved coffee plantations on the Island. Reservations are required and fees vary depending on group or type of reservation. Admission is around $10 adults, $7 students/ seniors and $5 children.
Tibes and Caguana Taino Ceremonial Parks
No trip to Puerto Rico would be complete without visiting the Tibes and Caguana Ceremonial Parks. These parks are a relic of the local pre-Columbian Taíno culture that flourished on the island. The two parks offer many exhibits and artifacts of the Taíno Culture.
Also known as Castillo de Santa Catalina, “La Fortaleza” (Spanish for Fortress) serves today as the seat of the Puerto Rican government and houses the Island’s Governor and First Family. Built in 1533, the fortress consists of several towers and fortified walls. You can visit La Fortaleza with daily tours and even go inside the building.
Porta Coeli Church in San Germán
Porta Coeli, Latin for “Doorway to Heaven”, stands as one of the oldest structures in the New World. Built in 1609, the church includes a museum of religious artifacts that feature several statues of the 18th and 19th centuries.
San Cristóbal Fort in Old San Juan
Built in 1771, this massive fortification was the location where the first shots of the Spanish-American war where fired. Covering more than 27 coastal acres, the structure consists of several units interconnected by tunnels and caves. Self-guided tours are available. Admission is around $3 for adults and $1 children + tax.
El Morro Castle in Old San Juan
Puerto Rico’s most known fortress, El Morro stands as a well preserved example of Spanish colonial rule. The location features an intricate array of exhibits and museums that host artifacts and other items left by the Spanish government. The lower levels feature abandoned soldier barracks, and our favorite is a cannon shell that was fired on the fort by American ships during the 1898 war. Admission is around $3 adults and $1 children + tax.
So when looking for what to do in Puerto Rico besides visit all the mesmerizing beaches and casinos, give one of these historic sites a try and you will not be disappointed.