When you think about visiting Old San Juan, you think of the vibrant colored homes on the cobblestone streets from the Spanish colonial era, but the true wonders are found in the the forts of Old San Juan. Specifically the two famous forts on the island, Castillo San Felipe del Morro aka El Morro and Castillio San Cristobal. These two relics still stand tall and allow visitors a glimpse into the past of Puerto Rico, specifically San Juan.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillio San Felipe del Morro or more affectionally known as “El Morro” is the older of the two forts of Old San Juan. The construction of the fort began in 1539 and finished in 1790. Walking around the fort you couldn’t help but be amazed at the six levels that comprise the fort. You walk along the outside perimeter where the ocean comes crashing against it or you walk up narrow staircases in between different levels. Just walking up to El Morro you can’t help but marvel at the sheer size of this fort. There are plenty of opportunities inside to learn about this history of the fort. It was interesting to learn that the Spaniards used the fort to defend Puerto Rico from the Dutch, British and pirates. The Spaniards controlled the fort up until 1898 when the fort changed hands to the United States during the Spanish-American war.
Castillio San Cristobal
While El Morro was built to defend from enemies attacking from the sea, Castillio San Cristobal was built to defend from land attacks. Construction started in 1634 and completed in 1790. San Cristobal is smaller of the two forts of Old San Juan only comprising of three levels compared to the six of El Morro. What San Cristobal lacks in size it makes up with views. From different areas of the fort you can see all the splendor and beauty of Old San Juan.
Cementerio Santa María Magdalena de Pazzi
While walking up to El Morro I saw the Cementerio Santa María Magdalena de Pazzi in the distance with all the tombstones and statues that line the cemetery. This cemetery houses some of Puerto Rico’s most prominent residents. Walking through the cemetery I couldn’t help but look at all the years marked on some of these graves. The beauty of these statues and graves also stood out to me as I was walking around. They say the Spanish built the cemetery by the water to help with the journey to the afterlife. Visiting this cemetery was my favorite part of discovering what the old forts of San Juan were all about.
To see more pictures and videos from my visit to the forts and cemetery please visit my Instagram page.