Puerto Rican Historical Monuments

Puerto Rican Historical Monuments
Although most visitors to Puerto Rico are attracted by white sandy beaches, exciting nightlife or adventures in the rainforest, the island's history alone is enough to attract others. From its ancient Taino population to its Spanish colonial era to its current Commonwealth, Puerto Rico's history spans millennia. And the island is packed with interesting monuments and sites to prove it.

Old San Juan

Old San Juan packs a wealth of historical monuments into a small, seven-square block area of narrow, cobblestone streets and colonial-era buildings. To maximize your sightseeing experience, take a walking tour to check out its several notable sites and plazas, such as the Plaza de San Jose, featuring a statue of Ponce de León made of captured British cannons, and the Plaza de Colón, celebrating the European discovery of Puerto Rico with a statue of Columbus. A number of important churches and cathedrals are scattered throughout the town, including the Catedral de San Juan, the second oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere and the site of Juan Ponce de León's tomb. At the very least, a full morning should be allotted to seeing but a sampling of Old San Juan's historical attractions.

El Morro

Nearly half a millennium of history lies within the massive stone walls of El Morro, which served as a fortress from the days of the Spanish conquistadores until World War II. "Promontory" in Spanish, it is a daunting structure when viewed from the edge of Old San Juan, and equally impressive on the inside for its aging towers, dark dungeons, spartan barracks, long stairways and commanding ocean views.

El Castillo de San Felipe del Morro
501 Norzagaray St.
San Juan, PR 00901
787-729-6777

Casa Canales

In the shadow of Los Tres Picachos, jungly peaks in the heart of Jayuya, and just across from the Nemesio Canales Museum is the small and unassuming Casa Canales. Built in the late 19th century by Jayuya's first mayor, the house become the home of several historically influential Puerto Ricans, including Nemesio Canales, the once-leading proponent of women's suffrage, and Blanca Canales, who headed the famous Jayuya uprising from this very house in 1950 against American colonial rule of the island.

Museo Casa Canales
Route 144, Km 9.2
Jayuya, PR 00664
787-828-4094

La Piedra Escrita

Also in Jayuya, this site in Ponce is once of the best places in Puerto Rico to glimpse Taino culture and history. After having populated Puerto Rico for over two millennia, the Taino's population was almost completely wiped out soon after the European arrival, but small traces can still be seen at sites like La Piedra Escrita, a large engraved stone lying in the middle of the Río Saliente. Other such sites are scattered throughout the island in such places as Ponce, Arecibo, and Utuado. After a free stroll along the board walk above "The Written Stone" or joining the locals for a swim in the river, check out the nearby Museo del Cemí, a unique structure shaped like a Taino cemí, meant to represent the ancient deities of this mysterious and little known civilization.

La Piedra Escrita
Route 144, Km 7.7
Jayuya, PR 00664

Article Written By Anthon Jackson

Anthon Jackson is a writer and photographer. Since obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Middle Eastern studies in 2008, he has authored travel guides for the likes of Rough Guides, A-Z World Travels and Adventure Journey while his work has also been featured by such publications as "GEOspecial," "Reader's Digest," Lonely Planet and National Geographic Traveler.

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