El morro in puerto rico: San Juan National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service)

Puerto Rico’s Famous Historic Site

By
Quinter Auma

As a popular travel destination, Puerto Rico has it all and then a lot more — and El Morro, the most famous historic site is one of them.

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Amazing view of El Morro, historical ruins in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Quick Links

  • The History Of El Morro
  • Accessing Puerto Rico’s Most Famous Historic Site
  • What Is There To See At El Morro?
  • Admission To The Fortress
  • Best Time To Visit El Morro
  • Where To Stay

As a popular travel destination, Puerto Rico has it all and then a lot more – from stunning beaches lined with palm trees, some with warm waters and golden sand, while others boast enormous waves and rocky grounds. Hosting the only tropical rainforest in the U.S.’ National Forest System, Puerto Rico is truly a charm to nature lovers. And now add to the enchanting historic El Morro in San Juan – there is a lot to explore in this fine state. The word “El Morro” means “promontory” in Spanish, and is the most famous historical tourist destination in Puerto Rico. With a history dating back to the 19th century, when Puerto Rico was governed under Spanish rule, the El Morro is a World Heritage Site – and now one of Puerto Rico’s most iconic buildings. El Morro, Puerto Rico’s most famous historic site, is known for this.

Related: 10 Most Fascinating & Historical Sites In Virginia

The History Of El Morro

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El Morro is the most spectacular military building in Puerto – and is a portion of the San Juan National Historic Site. Its construction began in 1539 during the Spanish rule and took over 200 years to be finalized. Over these years, this structure has defended against every naval attack successfully, including in 1595 when the Sir Francis Drake of England tried to break its walls. The intimidating fortress only broke down once in 1598, when the Cumberland’s Earl, George Clifford of England conquered the fortress by land. The United States made the fortress useful again to keep up with the German submarines’ movements in the Caribbean in the 20th century during the 2nd World War.

Accessing Puerto Rico’s Most Famous Historic Site

There is a walkway that leads to the El Morro and is accessible through a grade that takes travelers to the fortress. There is, however, no parking space at the entrance. The theater and the historic bookstore in the house are on the fifth floor – and are accessible from the main plaza. Travelers can always use a steep ramp to reach the sixth floor, while the building’s lower levels are inaccessible. There are listening devices and park brochures available in Braille, Spanish, and English.

What Is There To See At El Morro?

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Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, El Morro has a lot to impress travelers. Travelers can take some epic pictures of the beautifully scenic views as they walk through the walkways. At the entrance of the fortress is a stunning lush lawn – and tourists can join the locals in flying kites in the park, especially in splendid weather on weekends. One can take in the incredible view of the Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery from the lawn and the walkway. The main courtyard of the building’s walls is decorated with cheery yellow color and accented with white – giving opportunities for stunning photos. There is a lot of history and facts about the fort on the many boards mounted on this level. The three flags that fly at the fortress are beautiful to watch from one of the terraces or the courtyard.

Related: Discover Puerto Rico’s Old San Juan — The Oldest In The USA

Admission To The Fortress

Travelers pay an admission fee to access and explore Puerto Rico’s most famous historic site. The fee paid usually covers both El Morro and Castillo San Cristobal, located nearby the fortress. Visitors with an America the Beautiful National Parks passes automatically have admission to El Morro and Castillo San Cristobal. Buying tickets at the entrance to the fortress on the visitation day is also an alternative.

  • Admission Fee: $10
  • Time To Spend At El Morro: Between 2 and 3 hours is enough to explore this beautiful historic site

Best Time To Visit El Morro

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Visiting El Morro during the peak season (mid-December-mid-April) can be messy, especially during the day as there are lots of crowds. The trick is visiting to explore the fort during the early mornings to have a more beautiful experience and enjoy photo opportunities without crowds. One should actually be at the entrance at the opening time as there are just a handful of other travelers. Later in the day, the lawn and the pathways will be crowded with tourists, and the tour experience may not be that enjoyable.

  • Opening Times: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm every day, except for New Year’s, Christmas, and Thanksgiving Day.
  • Facilities: There are restrooms mounted at the entrance level of the fort, a bookstore, and a gift shop selling drinks, snacks, and souvenirs. The fort features a water fountain, and travelers can always bring refillable water bottles.

Where To Stay

One of the most beautiful and comfortable places to stay in El Morro is the historic Hotel El Convento, a stunning ancient hotel located at the center of San Juan. From this hotel, travelers can enjoy short walking distances to most of the top old city attractions, including the Castillo San Cristobal. The rooms in this hotel are spacious, and the furnishings are great. The staff is welcoming, and the quality of food and drinks here is second to none!

Travelers who haven’t been to San Juan to explore Puerto Rico’s most famous historic site should definitely visit and enjoy the beautiful city as well as the fascinating sights surrounding the fortress.

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About The Author

Quinter Auma is a travel writer based in Kenya. She has written travel articles on destinations across Africa and beyond. Her writing is inspired by her passion to travel to new destinations and inspire others to get out of their comfort zones and explore the beauty of this world — whether they travel around the world or in their own countries.

El Morro: Castle Ruins Of Puerto Rico

Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Image credit: Frederick Millett/Shutterstock

  • El Morro is Puerto Rico’s most popular historic site.
  • It is is a large fortress that dates back to the 16th century.
  • El Morro was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

Scattered across many countrysides and sprawling masses of land across the world are the remnants of ages long past. These can be architectural ruins, old buildings, and other more mysterious outcroppings like Stonehenge.

One particular asset stands out in Puerto Rico for its strong reputation and the rich background it brings with it. This building is called Castillo San Felipe del Morro, though it is more often referred to as El Morro, and is a fortified castle built in San Juan that dates all the way back to the 16th century when the country was still under strong Spanish rule. As of 1983, the site was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, meaning that the World Heritage Committee has recognized it as a site of Outstanding Universal Value, with special importance for everyone and which represents unique cultural or natural heritage. So, what exactly is the history of these castle ruins known as El Morro?

History

This building is a beautiful structure situated in a scenic location. The Spanish began construction of the castle in 1539, but it would take more than 200 years to fully complete. Even in its unfinished state, however, it was an important bulwark in repelling naval invaders, and not once in its history did a single naval attack manage to break its defences. It fell only one time, to England’s George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland who took the structure by a land invasion in 1598. Its military significance and strategic location would help it continue to play a role in the 20th century when it was used by the US to track the movements of German subs in the Caribbean.   

El Morro, Puerto Rico. Image credit: Kamira/Shutterstock

Location 

This picturesque and iconic structure is located facing the Atlantic Ocean, specifically situated in what is now known as Old San Juan, the capital city’s most storied district. It is specially built at the entrance of the Bay of San Juan, marking its importance as a critical fortification for protecting the once Spanish-owned colony. The castle itself has been under attack many times, even by the well-regarded seaman Sir Francis Drake. 

What Is It Used For Now?

Nowadays the structure is no longer used for its original purpose of military concentration and defence. Since being officially named a historic site it has moved more into the realm of entertainment, with the fortification and its expansive open areas being used for a variety of events, including concerts and other musical performers. Now, it is transformed into a premier destination for visitors, students, and tourists who want to glimpse its beautiful vistas and its historic elements. In fact, on most sunny and warm days, families can be spotted flying kites and playing with their children in the ruins of this once mighty military base. 

Alice Chen in History

Puerto Rico: El Morro on the defense of the island

andreev_org 09:24 am — Puerto Rico: El Morro on the defense of the island

«I burned the beard of the Spanish king!» — Francis Drake.

However, to take El Morro — the Spanish fortress on the island of Puerto Rico, Drake could not, and went to rob other Caribbean colonies. And besides the famous pirate, the fort withstood more than one attack from the Dutch fleet, a bunch of restless British, and later from the American Atlantic squadron at the end of 19th century. And why, one wonders, did they all climb here?

Well, of course, because of the treasures of the Spanish crown, plus the island was convenient to use on the waterway to Europe as a «base» for a warehouse of loot in freshly discovered Latin American countries.

On his second voyage to the shores of the West Indies, Christopher Columbus was the first European to set foot on Puerto Rico, a small rectangular island in the very northeast of the Caribbean Sea. The local Indians called their island Boriken, but Columbus gave it the name San Juan Batista («Saint John the Baptist»). Soon, the city of Puerto Rico appears on the island (that is, «rich harbor»). Subsequently, cartographers mixed up the names, and the name San Juan was assigned to the city, and Puerto Rico was assigned to the island.

It was to protect San Juan that the powerful, 6-level fort of El Morro was erected, the construction of which began in 1539. Over the next 300+ years, Spain more and more hangs El Morro with different «chips»: either the thickness of the walls is increased from two meters to five and a half, or in general, it was decided to enclose the entire San Juan with a huge wall, the construction of which took 48 years.
All this — huge city walls, the fort of San Cristobal built along the way to repel ground attacks, and, finally, El Morro, armored from all sides, protected San Juan until the very end of 19th century.

But in 1898, the Spanish-American War broke out, ending Spain’s dominance in Caribbean waters.
In January, during the unrest in Havana, Washington decides to send the battleship «Maine» there in order to show concern to the United States and protect American citizens (Christmas trees, nothing has changed in a hundred plus years). After the explosion of the ironclad on February 15, hostility towards Spain in American society began to grow. Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that, a week before the bombing, the New York Journal published a stolen letter by the Spanish minister in Washington, in which he belittled the current President McKinley and expressed confidence that Spain was ready to fight if the war will happen.

Based on militant sentiments, the McKinley government, under the pretext of supporting the national uprising in Cuba (the war for Cuban independence that had been going on since 1895), declared war on Spain. During the hostilities, the United States captured Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, which belonged to Spain since the 16th century. According to the Peace of Paris, which ended the war, Spain renounced the rights to all these colonies, which were declared «free states», but found themselves, however, under one form or another of US control.

So, the beautiful El Morro has become the American «Fort Brook», and the green lawn in front of it has been planted with palm trees and turned into a golf course.

Today, the flags of Puerto Rico, the United States and the Burgundian Cross, once used by the Spaniards, fly over the fort.

The struggle over the status of Puerto Rico does not stop. A certain part of the islanders is striving to turn the country into a US state. Their interests are represented by the Republican Party under a flag of blue, white and red horizontal stripes.
The independence camp is small and fragmented. Among them is the Communist Party, revived in 2010 (together with the political school named after Vladimir Lenin), whose flag repeats the design of the national flag, but, paradoxically, the red color has been eliminated from it. It is the only Communist Party flag in the world that does not have red on it. The majority of Puerto Ricans, participating in periodic referendums, support the idea of ​​maintaining the current status of the country.

Entrance to El Morro is $3 (children under 15 free). In the very center is the main square of the fortress, where parades and celebrations take place. A well was also dug here, which provided rain drinking water to all the defenders of the fort. The premises around were used as barracks, powder magazines, prison cells and firing points.

Going down the stairs to the very bottom, you can get to the St. Barbara Battery, the most powerful cannon battery of the entire fort. Most of the cannons here are located almost at sea level in order to be able to fire on the bottoms of ships that have come too close to the fortress. True, the battery participated in hostilities only twice. The rest of the time it was teachings, teachings, teachings.

And perhaps the most romantic element of the fortress — garitas . Guard houses «garitas» have become a national symbol. Their images can be found in any tourist catalogue, on postcards, on license plates and various souvenirs. And modern young Puerto Ricans like to kiss there 🙂

And speaking of toilets. No, but what? Enough history for us, it’s time for the essentials. There are two of them, and from the windows of both there are simply crazy views of the Atlantic. So do not rush to call the police when you see a joyful person with a camera coming out of the toilet. This is not a psycho and not a pervert. He just liked the landscape 😉

Location: Puerto Rico.

Katerina Andreeva.
www.andreev.org

Contents of previous episodes:

1. Southern Caribbean cruise: a brief overview
2. Barbados: on the Atlantic front
3. St. Maarten: beach under the wing of an airplane

Tags: puerto rico

Puerto Rico: El Morro on the defense of the island

«I burned the Spanish king’s beard!» — Francis Drake.

However, Drake could not take El Morro, a Spanish fortress on the island of Puerto Rico, and went to rob other Caribbean colonies. And besides the famous pirate, the fort withstood more than one attack from the Dutch fleet, a bunch of restless British, and later from the American Atlantic squadron at the end of the 19th century. And why, one wonders, did they all climb here?

Well, of course, because of the treasures of the Spanish crown, plus the island was convenient to use on the waterway to Europe as a «base» for a warehouse of loot in freshly discovered Latin American countries.

On his second voyage to the shores of the West Indies, Christopher Columbus was the first European to set foot on the land of Puerto Rico, a small rectangular island in the very northeast of the Caribbean Sea. The local Indians called their island Boriken, but Columbus gave it the name San Juan Batista («Saint John the Baptist»). Soon, the city of Puerto Rico appears on the island (that is, «rich harbor»). Subsequently, cartographers mixed up the names, and the name San Juan was assigned to the city, and Puerto Rico was assigned to the island.

It was to protect San Juan that the powerful, 6-level fort of El Morro was erected, the construction of which began in 1539. Over the next 300+ years, Spain more and more hangs El Morro with different «chips»: either the thickness of the walls is increased from two meters to five and a half, or in general, it was decided to enclose the entire San Juan with a huge wall, the construction of which took 48 years.
All this — the huge city walls, the fort of San Cristobal built along the way to repel ground attacks, and, finally, the El Morro, armored from all sides, protected San Juan until the very end of 19th century.

But in 1898, the Spanish-American War broke out, ending Spain’s dominance in Caribbean waters.
In January, during the riots in Havana, Washington decides to send the battleship «Maine» there in order to show concern to the US and protect American citizens (Christmas trees, nothing has changed in more than a hundred years). After the explosion of the ironclad on February 15, hostility towards Spain in American society began to grow. Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that, a week before the bombing, the New York Journal published a stolen letter by the Spanish minister in Washington, in which he belittled the current President McKinley and expressed confidence that Spain was ready to fight if the war will happen.

Based on militant sentiments, the McKinley government, under the pretext of supporting the national uprising in Cuba (the war for Cuban independence that had been going on since 1895), declared war on Spain. During the hostilities, the United States captured Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, which belonged to Spain since the 16th century. According to the Peace of Paris, which ended the war, Spain renounced the rights to all these colonies, which were declared «free states», but found themselves, however, under one form or another of US control.

So, the beautiful El Morro has become the American «Fort Brook», and the green lawn in front of it has been planted with palm trees and turned into a golf course.

Today, the flags of Puerto Rico, the United States and the Burgundian Cross, once used by the Spaniards, fly over the fort.

The struggle over the status of Puerto Rico does not stop. A certain part of the islanders is striving to turn the country into a US state. Their interests are represented by the Republican Party under a flag of blue, white and red horizontal stripes.
The independence camp is small and fragmented. Among them is the Communist Party, revived in 2010 (together with the political school named after Vladimir Lenin), whose flag repeats the design of the national flag, but, paradoxically, the red color has been eliminated from it. It is the only Communist Party flag in the world that does not have red on it. The majority of Puerto Ricans, participating in periodic referendums, support the idea of ​​maintaining the current status of the country.

Entrance to El Morro is $3 (children under 15 free). In the very center is the main square of the fortress, where parades and celebrations take place. A well was also dug here, which provided rain drinking water to all the defenders of the fort. The premises around were used as barracks, powder magazines, prison cells and firing points.

Going down the stairs to the very bottom, you can get to the St. Barbara Battery, the most powerful cannon battery of the entire fort. Most of the cannons here are located almost at sea level in order to be able to fire on the bottoms of ships that have come too close to the fortress. True, the battery participated in hostilities only twice. The rest of the time it was teachings, teachings, teachings.

And perhaps the most romantic element of the fortress — garitas . Guard houses «garitas» have become a national symbol. Their images can be found in any tourist catalogue, on postcards, on license plates and various souvenirs. And modern young Puerto Ricans like to kiss there 🙂

And speaking of toilets. No, but what? Enough history for us, it’s time for the essentials.

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