Puerto rico castillo san felipe del morro: Exploring Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Old San Juan
Castillo San Felipe Del Morro In Old San Juan
Castillo San Felipe Del Morro is Puerto Rico’s most famous landmark.
For almost 500 years, El Morro, with its 40 feet tall and more than 20 feet wide walls, defended the island from the attacks of enemies.
For decades I have been taking friends, family members, and tourists to El Morro and giving them a historically accurate tour.
In this article, I will cover everything that you need to know about Castillo San Felipe Del Morro in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico:
– What is the history of Castillo San Felipe Del Morro?
– What is the Castle of San Felipe del Morro today?
– Why is Castillo San Felipe Del Morro famous?
– Where is it located?
– How long does it take to tour Castillo San Felipe del Morro?
– Should you visit Castillo San Felipe del Morro?
What is the history of Castillo San Felipe Del Morro?
Christopher Columbus “discovered” and claimed for the Spanish Crown the Island of Boriken on November 16, 1493.
He named the island San Juan Bautista in honor of John The Baptist.
In 1508 Juan Ponce de Leon (Christopher Columbus’s lieutenant) founded the city of Caparra to serve as San Juan’s Island center of government.
The Spanish started construction of El Morro in 1539 and finished it in 1790.
One year later, Ponce de Leon moved the settlement to an islet on the island’s northeast shore (now Old San Juan) and named the city Puerto Rico (Rich Port).
Around 1522 the names were interchanged. They renamed the Island Puerto Rico and the capital San Juan.
Between 1533 and 1540, the Spanish built La Fortaleza, the first fortification in the San Juan harbor. Now, La Fortaleza is the oldest Governor’s Mansion in the Americas.
Because of Puerto Rico’s privileged position, the world powers started calling the island “The Gateway to The New World.”
Puerto Rico was located very strategically for countries looking to colonize the Caribbean.
They said that whoever controlled the island of Puerto Rico would control the ocean routes from the Americas to Europe. Thus, the Spanish Crown knew they needed to defend Puerto Rico to keep their control of “The New World.”
The Spanish started construction of El Morro in 1539 and finished it in 1790. During those 250 years, El Morro expanded from a cannon mounted on a promontory to a six-level fortress.
El Morro defended Puerto Rico from several historical attacks. Here is a review of the most critical attacks Castillo San Felipe Del Morro faced.
In 1595 the famous English Privateer Sir Frances Drake was defeated when he attacked El Morro with 27 vessels and more than 2,500 men.
But the English did not give up; in 1598, George Clifford, The Earl Of Cumberland, attacked San Juan.
Clifford learned from Drake’s mistake and took a different approach.
The Earl of Cumberland disembarked outside the walls of El Morro, attacked by land, and succeeded.
Puerto Rico was now under English control.
That British control lasted a short time; it only lasted almost two months.
George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland.
Dysentery killed most English troops, and the ones who survived abandoned the island.
In 1625 The Dutch fought for their independence from Spain.
The Netherlands took the fight to the new world and attacked San Juan.
After 21 days of siege and battles, The Dutch started to run out of ammunition and supplies.
Unable to make The Spanish surrender El Morro The Dutch left, but as a “parting gift,” they burned down the city of San Juan.
In the middle of the eighteenth century, the Spanish Crown commissioned two Irishmen, Field Marshall Alexander O’Reilly, and Chief Engineer Colonel Thomas O’Daly, to reform the fortifications of Puerto Rico, including Castillo San Felipe Del Morro.
O’ Daly did the last major construction and renovation of El Morro just in time to defend Puerto Rico from the 1797 attack of The British.
On April 17, 1797, General Sir Ralph Abercromby came to San Juan with a 68-vessel fleet and 7,000 men to take over Puerto Rico.
The Spanish defeated Abrecombrie and protected the island.
One Hundred years later, in the Spanish-American war, the once unconquerable six-level fortress fell to the more sophisticated war technology of the United States.
A defeated, covered in smoke Castillo San Felipe del Moro was testimony that history had changed.
In 1898, The New York Times reports that the US flag now waves in Puerto Rico.
Spain was no longer the ruler of the Americas, and The United States became a major World Power.
Spain gave Puerto Rico as spoils of war to the United States.
The American government used El Morro in the two World Wars.
The US Military, named El Morro Fort Brooke, added a Bunker, a naval observation post, and an anti-aircraft gun emplacement.
After defending the island for the Spanish Crown for over 400 years, El Morro became part of the United States Military.
The old fortress that fended wooden ships’ attacks was now defending the United States against potential German submarine and air attacks.
US Congress retired El Morro from service.
In 1961 El Morro became part of the San Juan Historic Site of the United States Park Service.
The UNESCO designated Castillo San Felipe Del Morro as a World Heritage landmark in 1983.
What is the Castle of San Felipe del Morro today?
Today, El Morro is the most visited tourist attraction in Puerto Rico.
The fortress welcomes cruise ships as they enter the San Juan Harbor.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro’s located as viewed from San Juan.
If you come to Puerto Rico on a cruise ship, be on deck to witness the beauty of El Morro from the sea.
The United States Park Service has done an extraordinary job preserving El Morro.
El Morro is part of the San Juan Historic Site of the United States Park Service, along with San Cristobal Fort and other Old San Juan landmarks.
Why is Castillo San Felipe Del Morro famous?
Castillo San Felipe Del Morro is famous for various reasons.
It is a well-preserved historical site, has withstood the test of time (El Morro is almost 500 years old), and is a family-friendly tourist attraction.
Explore the 500 year old grounds of El Morro on a sunny day and you will find many other visitors flying kites.
You can fly kites in the yard in front of El Morro. The view is simply breathtaking.
Garitas are the famous guard stands you will see surrounding El Morro.
The legend of “La Garita del Diablo,” The Devil’s Sentry Box, said Spanish soldiers disappeared from that “Garita.”
El Morro is also a “Time Machine,” you will travel to colonial times and immerse yourself in a time when real pirates of the Caribbean threatened Puerto Rico’s safety.
El Morro is also a testimony of Puerto Rican bravery.
Criollos (people of Spanish descent born on or living in Puerto Rico) used El Morro to defend the island from its attackers.
Interesting Fact: The patch that identifies The United States Army’s Puerto Rico National Guard is a “Garita” (a Sentry Box at El Morro).
I wore that patch with pride!
Where is it located?
You will find Castillo San Felipe Del Moro at 501 Calle Norzagaray in Old San Juan.
El Morro overlooks San Juan Bay.
The aerial view of El Morro showcases the intricate walls built around the fortress to protect the city from invasion.
Provided you stay within Old San Juan, you can walk to El Morro.
The City Of San Juan has a Trolley that will leave you at the entrance of El Morro free of charge.
From other areas of San Juan, you can drive yourself or take a taxi or an Uber to The Fortress.
If you go to El Morro driving, there is an underground parking area at the end of Norzagaray Street. You can walk to El Morro, about 5 to 10 minutes from that parking area.
Below is a Google Map that shows the location of El Morro:
How long does it take to tour Castillo San Felipe del Morro?
The grassy grounds of El Morro are perfect for families and friend groups that want to relax after a long day walking around Old San Juan.
It takes three to four hours to tour Castillo San Felipe Del Morro. The fortress has six levels connected by ramps and stairs.
You can see the kitchen, soldiers living quarters, and a chapel in honor of Our Lady Of The Navigators.
Go to the cannon area and pretend you are defending the island from invaders.
Look at the harbor area from a Sentry Box, or watch the informative movie at the visitor’s center.
Park Rangers offer a guided El Morro tour.
But you don’t need a tour; you can get plenty of information on the several interpretive plaques and boards in English and Spanish all over El Morro.
There are restrooms at the entrance of El Morro.
They have a gift shop/bookstore where you can buy souvenirs, drinks, and snacks.
There is also a water fountain where you can refill your water bottles to stay hydrated.
Should you visit Castillo San Felipe del Morro?
There are many photo opportunities around El Morro, and enough things to do to spend the better part of a day here.
El Morro is fun and instructive, and the views are amazing.
If you like history, architecture, or Pirates of the Caribbean movies, you will love El Morro.
Be aware that there are many stairs, ramps, and tunnels.
Wear comfortable shoes and adequate clothing, and stay hydrated.
People with mobility problems can still visit the central courtyard and other areas on the level, including the theater and the bookstore.
Check out Castillo San Felipe del Morro in the following video:
Do you need tickets for Castillo San Felipe?
Yes, you can buy tickets on the National Park Service website or at the gate in El Morro. El Morro gets crowded, and try to arrive early in the morning to avoid long lines.
How much does it cost to visit El Morro?
When writing this article, the admission fee for an adult is under $15; that fee covers both El Morro and the San Cristobal Fort, the largest Spanish fort in the Americas. Children 15 years and younger enter both fortresses for free, and if you are an active duty member of the armed forces, you are entitled to a free one-year pass to enter United States Park Service facilities.
Castillo San Felipe Del Morro is one of the most famous landmarks in Puerto Rico.
It has almost 500 years of history, colonial architecture and an unsurpassed view of the San Juan Harbor.
No visit to Puerto Rico is complete without visiting El Morro.
If you are looking for other activities, then check out our article 45 Best Things To Do In Puerto Rico.
Writer at PuertoRico.com. I was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. I’m passionate about Puerto Rican history and culture. I live on the west coast of Puerto Rico, and host an Airbnb for tourists. I also coordinate tours and concierge services for tourists. I authored “Eat Like A Local, Puerto Rico”, and have contributed to blogs and magazines with articles about discovering and enjoying what Puerto Rico has to offer.
About the author
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Last updated: December 12 | Data sourced from: ACAPS, OXFORD
Questions & Answers
What is the cheapest way to get from San Juan to Castillo San Felipe del Morro?
The cheapest way to get from San Juan to Castillo San Felipe del Morro is to taxi which costs €13 — €17 and takes 5 min.
What is the fastest way to get from San Juan to Castillo San Felipe del Morro?
The quickest way to get from San Juan to Castillo San Felipe del Morro is to taxi which costs €13 — €17 and takes 5 min.
How far is it from San Juan to Castillo San Felipe del Morro?
The distance between San Juan and Castillo San Felipe del Morro is 2 km.
How do I travel from San Juan to Castillo San Felipe del Morro without a car?
The best way to get from San Juan to Castillo San Felipe del Morro without a car is to taxi which takes 5 min and costs €13 — €17.
How long does it take to get from San Juan to Castillo San Felipe del Morro?
It takes approximately 5 min to drive 2. 7 km from San Juan to Castillo San Felipe del Morro.
Where can I stay near Castillo San Felipe del Morro?
There are 455+ hotels available in Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Prices start at €87 per night.
What companies run services between San Juan, Puerto Rico and Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Puerto Rico?
You can catch a taxi from San Juan to Castillo San Felipe del Morro with Santana Taxi Service, Rochdale Radio Taxi or Metro Taxi.
Taxi from San Juan to Castillo San Felipe del Morro
- Ave. Duration
- 5 min
- Estimated price
- €13 — €17
- +787 562-9836
- santanataxi. webs.com
- +787 721-1900
- +787 725-2870
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Best Country: Top 5 Puerto Rico Attractions
On November 19, 1493, Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Puerto Rico during his travels. Today we recall the main attractions of this paradise — you will find the best places for tourists in our selection.
Castillo de San Felipe del Morro
Fans of historical buildings should definitely visit the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro. It is located in the old part of the city of San Juan — the capital of the country. This fortress was built during the capture of the island by the Spaniards: they tried to defend themselves from the troops of other European countries who wanted to take away the conquered Caribbean islands from them.
The castle was named after King Philip II of Spain. Throughout its centuries-old history, it has undergone completions and reconstructions, as a result of which it now looks like a completely modern defense structure with six-level walls over 40 meters high. During World War II, the Americans set up a bunker here. And in 1983, the fort was recognized as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Now there is a museum, the doors of which are always open for tourists.
Caribbean National Forest
The El Unco Reserve, or the Caribbean National Forest, is the largest tropical forest in which nature is preserved in its original state. Here, tourists can relax in the shade of trees, admire waterfalls and forest lakes, as well as rare plants and animals (for example, bright green Amazonian parrots that are endangered live here). El Unco is located very close to San Juan, and after a noisy metropolitan life, it can be very nice to relax like this and feel like a child of nature.
The full attractions of Puerto Rico, like other island countries, are local beaches. Tourists especially love the beaches of the island of Vieques. They boast clean white sand and azure water. The most popular is Sun Bay. Everything here is equipped for the convenience of visitors: there is parking, showers, garbage cans. On the beaches of Red Beach and Blue Beach, surfing and diving are practiced. There is also Secret Beach — there are usually few people here, and you can relax calmly.
Kamuy Caves is the third largest cave system in the world. They were officially opened only in 1958, although they were visited much earlier by local Indians. On the territory of the caves there is a picturesque underground river Kamuy — rare fish are found in it, preserved only here, underground. At the moment, 228 caves have been discovered, but scientists suggest that their number can reach 800. Interesting night tours are held in the caves every week.
Alicia Sotomayor Gallery
Art lovers can visit the Alicia Sotomayor Gallery in San Juan. Here are the best works of this artist. Her style is characterized by the use of only «warm» and bright colors. The girl is a recognized master of watercolor painting and even teaches her drawing technique in a private art studio. If you want to join the beautiful — be sure to go to this gallery. But it is worth remembering that a visit is possible only after an appointment.
Top 7 things to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan, located on the Atlantic coast of Puerto Rico, is usually the first port of call when you arrive on the island. It is the largest city with centuries of history, vibrant neighborhoods and many of the best things to do in San Juan scattered throughout the city.
All this makes it one of the most popular cities in Puerto Rico. All this makes it a great place to start your adventure around the island or relax in the city.
To be honest, the whole island of Puerto Rico is amazing, especially with all the great places to see. You won’t want to miss it! That being said, if you’re looking for an urban vibe, then San Juan is the perfect place.
So in order for to hit the ground running I would like to share some epic places worth visiting. in San Juan while you explore the city.
You see, here you can walk around Old San Juan and immerse yourself in culture and history (surprisingly) in one of the most historic neighborhoods in Puerto Rico.
With centuries of history and colonial buildings built over the centuries, this place is perfect for history buffs or if you just want to stroll in a peaceful environment.
As you tinker around, you can visit the Garita del Diablo, the 16th century Puerta de San Juan city gate, and combine it with a visit to the Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Read more: Things to do in Puerto Rico
2.) Castillo San Felipe del Morro Castillo San Cristobal
Speaking of old San Juan, don’t forget to visit some of the oldest forts in America while in town. The Castillo San Felipe del Morro, commonly referred to as El Morro, took decades for the Spanish to finish centuries ago.
Filled with history and fantastic views, El Morro is still one of the best things to do in San Juan if you’re interested in its history.
Oh, and don’t forget to come here. Castillo San Cristobal too. However, to this day it is one of the largest fortifications ever built by Spain in the new world!
You may even notice some of them. local iguanas too.
Read more: Things to do in Puerto Rico
Located in the heart of San Juan, Santurce is an area you don’t want to miss when visiting the city.
It’s a thriving art scene surrounded by colorful murals, gourmet vans, trendy cafes and live music venues to boot!
Once in the area, be sure to visit the Museum of Art (MAPR), which houses eighteen rooms filled with thousands of works of art. If that’s none of your business, go outside. around Calle Cerra where you can see heaps of street art and murals.
You can also call MUSA for a delicious lunch (and cocktails) — their blackened tuna is everything!
4.) La Perla
Today La Perla is a community, but it wasn’t always like that. For centuries, this was the territory where enslaved people were forced to live (as they were not allowed within the city limits).
The area is now a colorful mix of buildings and places worth visiting, especially from the viewpoints from the coast.
If you’re on a hunger strike, be sure to check out La Garita, which has delicious mofongo and incredible waterfront views. Just be aware, you may have to wait a bit for the food to arrive!
Not far from El Morro, you can find La Fortaleza, a place not to be missed.
You see, this is the complex that houses the home and office of the governor of Puerto Rico, and it’s just amazing. Painted in a beautiful blue color, the colonial building is a UNESCO National Historic Landmark and has been built over the past few centuries.
Because of the heaps of history, this is the place where you should sign up for a tour. You see, you can’t just wander around La Fortaleza, but you can take a guided weekday tour that lasts about 30 minutes.
Be sure to bring your ID or you won’t enter!
Located very close to the Old Town of San Juan, Condado is an area that is perfect if you want to spend time on the beach.
Although Condado Beach can get a little busy on weekends, it’s still a great place to relax and take a dip! Just come early in the morning if you want to avoid the big crowds. In addition, you can rent sun loungers and umbrellas right on the beach.
Read more: Things to do in Puerto Rico
7.) El Capitol
Arguably one of the greatest buildings in all of Puerto Rico, El Capitol is amazing to visit.
Once here, take one of the guided tours to see the incredible architecture inside. However, this is often unfortunate if you can actually handle it. However, it is worth taking a look and asking once you arrive in the area.
Alternatively, if you just see it from the outside, be sure to visit Plaza de San Juan Bautista for the best view of El Capitol.