I hate to give it away, before I have finished taking you on the cruise with me, but San Juan was my favourite. Is it because I have become a big city girl, after all, I have spent most of my adult life living in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, with a bit of time in London, England as well, and we all know how large that city is. To be fair, I only visited the old walled city, so charming, how could one not love it.
We arrived just as the sun was coming up, were quickly off the ship, and spent the whole day walking around the city, (hopefully I burned off some of the weight I am sure I gained while on board). I have a bit of a thing for old, old house, old books, old clothes, etc. and San Juan is old. Centuries old Spanish fortresses (there are two, San Felipe del Morro and San Cristobal) and the thickest wall imaginable surround the ‘old’ city. Full of charm,
it has narrow, cobbled streets,
brightly coloured houses,
amazing filigreed iron balconies, and
hidden plazas and cafes/restaurants everywhere.
I was taken with the colour of these bricks that pave the streets. They are adoquines, have a bluish glaze and were brought to San Juan as ballast in the ships. They certainly set off all the wonderful painted houses.
This is del Morro, one of the two forts that guard the old city of San Juan. It is the largest green space in the walled city, and while we were there, (on a Sunday), locals and tourists alike were taking advantage of the lovely weather and congregating here. Kites were flying, people were picnicking, and everyone seemed to have a dog with them.
Just beside del Morro, is the Cementerio de San Juan,
the pink domed building is the chapel of Santa Maria Magdalena Del Pazzis.
The little sentry boxes are scattered all around the walls
we actually purchased a watercolour of one of these as a souvenir of our time here.
The other fortress that protected San Juan is San Cristobel Castle. built on 27 acres, this is the largest ever built by the Spanish in the New World.
One of the main streets ends with this beautiful gated Capilla del Cristo, a small stone chapel that commemorates a local miracle. In the legend, a horse and rider fell off this cliff during a race in the 1700’s but prayers saved the riders life
There are wonderful views of the harbour from the wall beside it.
We really should have had a plan, there are numerous walking tours available, either on-line or through the tourist bureau, but we were happy just to wander around, and see what we discovered.
Like this totem at Plaza del Quinto Centenario. The totem, named Totem Telurico, was sculpted by Jamie Suarez out of black granite and ceramic replicas of archeological artifacts, rising 40 feet in the air. It is a tribute to the 500th anniversary of Columbus arriving in the New World
Just past the totem are two metal sculptures of lambs, representing the Lamb of God.
Another acknowledgement of Columbus’ discovery lies at the Plaza de Colon, (Columbus Square), where a statue of the explorer was placed on a stone pillar,
high above a fountain. This was erected in 1893, marking the 400th anniversary of his discovery of Puerto Rico.
Next stop, St. Thomas…