Old San Juan in Puerto Rico is a 465-year-old neighborhood originally conceived as a military stronghold. Its 7-square-block area has evolved into a charming residential and commercial district. Protected by its two proud forts, the walled city of San Juan recalls a past era, and yet dazzles with sophisticated restaurants, charming hotels, and a sizzling nightlife. This historic area of San Juan boasts many boutique style high-end hotels and some mid-range hotel options. There are also several plazas and parks that are worth visiting while in Old San Juan.
Hotel El Convento: This historic landmark was once a 17th Century Carmelite convent, but I bet the nuns who called this place home never got to live like the current guests do. The boutique hotel is a perfect balance of historic majesty and modern luxury.
Chateau Cervantes: This all-suite boutique hotel offers unbeatable style, service and amenities.
The Gallery Inn: The Gallery Inn, a stunning twenty-two room boutique hotel, sits high aloft the Old City’s North Wall, commanding sensuous Atlantic Ocean breezes and gorgeous views to the South over the entire San Juan Bay and mountainous central regions of Puerto Rico.
Hotel Milano: Affordable, nice hotel centrally located within walking distance of Old San Juan’s many tourist attractions and the cruise harbor.
S.J. Suites: S.J. Suites Hotel is located in Heart of Old San Juan. S.J. Suites was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in (1983).
Sheraton Old San Juan: Experience the heart and soul of Old San Juan by staying in the middle of this historic, charming, oceanfront town. Sheraton Old San Juan is the only casino is this area of town, with over 350 state of the art slot machines.
Old San Juan Plazas:
Plaza de San José: a favorite meeting place for young and old alike. At its center stands the bronze statue of Ponce de León, made from British cannons captured during Sir Ralph Abercromby’s attack in 1797.
Plaza del Quinto Centenario (Quincentennial Square): opened in October 12, 1992. This plaza is the cornerstone of Puerto Rico’s commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of the New World and has a sculpture that is 12 meters (40 feet) tall.
Plaza de Armas (Arms Square): Old San Juan’s main square, on San José Street. Features four statues representing the four seasons; all are over 100 years old.
Plaza de Colón (Columbus Square): originally called St. James Square was renamed in 1893 to honor Christopher Columbus on the 400th anniversary of his discovery of Puerto Rico; bronze tablets at the pedestal of the Columbus statue record important episodes in the explorer’s life.
Plazuela de la Rogativa (Plaza of Religious Procession): built in 1971, features a modern sculpture depicting a procession of religious women commemorates an event that took place on the site in 1797.
Plaza de Hostos: located near La Casita, features artisan displays, snack stands, and traditional piragüeros, who sell shaved ice topped with tropical fruit syrup
Old San Juan Parks:
Parque de las Palomas (Pigeon Park): located near the Paseo de la Princesa, next to Capilla del Cristo at the end of Cristo Street. This park overlooks the restored La Princesa Jail, now a government office with an attractive art gallery. It is the perfect spot from which to enjoy a magnificent view of the harbor, city and mountains. It is also a great choice for families with small children; kids will enjoy interacting with the local pigeons.
Luis Muñoz Rivera Park: a spacious ocean side park with large trees, landscape gardens and wide walks, located on Jesús T. Piñero Avenue. Open Tues-Sun 9:00am – 5:00pm.
Other parks include: Martí Coll Linera Park and Central Park (with facilities for jogging, baseball, calisthenics and tennis).
Old San Juan Forts:
San Felipe del Morro was named in honor of King Phillip II, commonly known as El Morro, is a 16th-century citadel. The fort is open to the public every day from 9am to 6pm except on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission is Adults $5, Children under 3 are free, (787) 729-6960.
Castillo de San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Fort) is El Morro’s partner in the city’s defense. Open daily from 9am to 6pm; (787) 729-6960.
The Fuerte San Gerónimo (San Gerónimo Fort) was built on the opposite end of San Juan to strengthen the city’s defenses. The fort is located behind the Caribe Hilton Hotel, with small military museum in Puerta de Tierra.
The Santa Elena Battery building with a long chimney-topped bunker was the formal army storage area.
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