Ciudad de ponce puerto rico: Visit Ponce — Ciudad Ideal

Ponce, Puerto Rico Travel Guide- Top Hotels, Restaurants, Vacations, Sightseeing in Ponce- Hotel Search by Hotel & Travel Index: Travel Weekly


Ponce, Puerto Rico’s fourth-largest city, is the birthplace of a long roster of Puerto Rican writers, statesmen, singers and poets.

Known as the Ciudad Senorial (the Noble City) or La Perla del Sur (the Pearl of the South), Ponce has taken equal pride in its architecture. In the mid-1800s, Ponceno leaders used the profits from their vast sugarcane and coffee crops to construct ornate buildings for various civic, cultural and artistic institutions—turning the downtown into a showplace. When Ponce’s city economy waned in the 1930s, however, the buildings slid into disrepair.

Ponce has undergone a revival in the past decade or so, receiving hundreds of millions of dollars to revitalize its wooden and plaster buildings (increasing the number of historically significant protected ones to more than 1,000), many of which are adorned with pillars, balconies and intricate latticework. The refurbishment campaign, known locally as Ponce en Marcha (Ponce on the Move), has had impressive results.

In addition to its architecture, Ponce also offers visitors a standout art museum and a picturesque boardwalk.

Ponce has made great strides in its recovery from Hurricane Maria in September 2017, especially in tourist areas. Central Ponce around Plaza Las Delicias appears fully restored, although some individual museums may still be undergoing renovations. Further from city center, expect to see rougher roads, downed utility lines and ongoing repairs.


The southern city of Ponce is at the foothills of the Cordillera Central mountain range. You will definitely know when you’re entering the city because five monumental letters spell out «Ponce» in alternating black and red colors, positioned at the highway entrance to the city.

Look out for the lions, too—concrete figures of lions representing Ponce’s pride, history and tradition. The neoclassical architecture and European touches distinguish Ponce from other Puerto Rican cities.


Ponce was founded in 1692 by Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon’s great-grandson Loiza Ponce de Leon. Ponce was Spain’s capital city of the southern region until 1898, when Puerto Rico fell to the U.S.

In addition to being known as the Ciudad Senorial or La Perla del Sur, Ponce is also called the Ciudad de los Leones (City of the Lions), and there are many freestanding lion figures and sculptures throughout the city, especially in the downtown plaza and entrances to the city.

The firehouse in Ponce, known locally as the Parque de Bombas, holds much history for the southern city, as do the firefighters of the station. While on duty in 1883, the firefighters put out a fire that nearly destroyed much of the southern coast. Today, many tourists flock to visit the red- and black-striped (the city’s colors) station, which is now a main visitor attraction in the central plaza of the city; the station operated until 1990 before becoming a public museum.

The Ponce Museum of Art, another historical gem, houses the largest art collection in the Caribbean and holds a sentimental place in the hearts of Puerto Ricans and Poncenos. It was founded by the island’s late Gov. Luis A. Ferre, a highly regarded political figure and humanitarian. Ponce’s history is also evidenced by the main plaza, which includes city hall, the oldest colonial building in the city, dating to the 1840s. Poncenos hold a great pride for their city.


Visitors to Ponce have no problem exploring the historic downtown by foot or by taking the regularly scheduled free trolley service that whisks you by the historical sites.


Evening activities center on the hotels, especially the casino at Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort, which has live music on the weekends.

But you should visit the downtown plaza briefly to view the Fountain of the Lions all lit up—it’s worth the trip. Downtown is pleasant and safe after dark.

On weekends, La Guancha is the place to be—a local band is usually playing on the open-air stage, and the boardwalk is full of dancers and strollers.


Ponce has several excellent restaurants serving Continental cuisine. You’ll also find local eateries serving filling plates of comida criolla (local food) for little money. Fast-food restaurants abound, as do food carts and stalls where you can buy local favorites such as empanadillas (chicken- or beef-stuffed turnovers), rellenos de papa (fried potato balls stuffed with meat) and alcapurrias (plantain wraps filled with meat and seafood) for a dollar or two.

Expect to pay within these guidelines for a meal for one, not including drinks, tax or tip: $ = less than US$10; $$ = US$10-$20; $$$ = US$21-$50; and $$$$ = more than US$50.

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Step back into Spanish history in Ponce, Puerto Rico

Last updated on February 9th, 2022

One of the greatest joys of travel is the chance to experience the past, unvarnished and unaltered by time and decay. Such a place is Ponce. Located on the southern coast of Puerto Rico, Ponce is often referred to as La Perla del Sur (The Pearl of the South) or La Ciudad de los Leones (City of Lions). It was first discovered in 1692, and is named for Juan Ponce de León y Loayza, the great-grandson of Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce De León. Today, it is the most populous city outside of San Juan.

Carolyn stands in the plaza of El Parque de Bombas / Photo credit: Carolyn Ray

The storied history and architectural beauty of this colonial city may be best seen in its red and black museum of firefighting history (El Parque de Bombas). Built in the town square in 1882, it was Puerto Rico’s first fire station, a symbol of prosperity at a time when Ponce was experiencing an influx of entrepreneurs and industrialists from around the world, incentivized by the government’s desire to make it an industrial hub for coffee, sugarcane and shipping.

Melina Aguilar Colón’s company Isla Caribe offers historical tours of Ponce. “Ponce is a cultural tourism gem that has not been polished,” she said. “There are so many opportunities for growth and real impact, especially in creating jobs and economic growth.”

She started her business after Hurricane Maria motivated to do something for her community and Puerto Rico to help develop the island using cultural tourism.

Red buildings in Ponce, Puerto Rico / Photo credit: Carolyn Ray

Street art in Ponce, Puerto Rico / Photo credit: Carolyn Ray

“My family moved to Ponce when I was two to start a family business in the historic area,” she said. “After Maria, I felt I had responsibility to come back after working overseas for 10 years and help the city’s tourism rise again. I had just graduated with a Masters in Political Science and International Relations from the Graduate Institute of Geneva, but I knew I wanted to come back and help develop my island. I knew my city was the perfect place to start.”

There is much to discover here, and I wish I could have stayed longer. From the heart of the city, at Plaza Las Delicias, where El Parque de Bombas and La Catedral Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe are located, you can easily walk to aristocratic homes, stunning fountains and open-air museums and art galleries, most of which are meticulously well-preserved.

Street art in Ponce, Puerto Rico / Photo credit: Carolyn Ray

There is also a revival happening, with cruise ships, new art galleries and hotels like the 1950s-themed Fabulous Fox. Once an art deco movie theatre built in 1934, the Fox re-opened in December 2019, welcoming you with pink flamingoes in a circular fountain near the entrance.

I left Ponce feeling that I hadn’t given it enough time; and sadly, many of the colonial structures that I would have like to visit were damaged in the earthquake that happened days later. I’m planning to return and spend more time walking its cobbled streets and learning more about its music, creativity, and culture

  • To plan your trip, visit:
  • Isla Caribe Tours:
  • Review our Earthquake Tips on how to plan and prepare for an earthquake
  • El Parque de Bombas: located at Plaza Las Delicias, the city square
  • El Castillo de Serrallés: Built in 1926, the family home of the Serrallés family (Don Q Rum), is now a museum offering a glimpse into the history of the sugar cane and rum industry
  • The Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Centre: one of the most important archaeological discoveries made in the Antilles, providing insight into how the indigenous tribes of the Igneri and Tainos lived before the arrival of Christopher Columbus.
  • Calle 25 de Enero: the 25 tiny red and black houses that were awarded to the firefighters who saved their city from an enormous blaze in 1899
  • Hotel Belgica: Right on the town square; ask for a room with a balcony
  • The 100-foot Watchman Cross, or Cruceta del Vigía marks the original wooden cross where residents were alerted to merchant ships and invaders arriving at its port through a series of flags on top of a hill
  • The Fabulous Fox Hotel: just re-opened with a retro-1950s theme
  • Places to eat: Vistas Restaurant, Lola’s

Carolyn Ray

A passionate traveller, Carolyn believes anything is possible when we follow our heart and trust our intuition. Raised in Florida, Carolyn loves all things Latin, margaritas, the ocean and music. She’s a board member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC) and the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA).

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