Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Puerto Rico - 16th September 2015

San Juan is the capital and most populous municipalityin the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States. It had a population of approximately 395,326 making it the 46th-largest city under the jurisdiction of the United States. San Juan was founded by Spanish colonists in 1521, who called it Ciudad de Puerto Rico ("Rich Port City"). Puerto Rico's capital is the second oldest European-established capital city in the Americas, after Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic
Today, San Juan is the Puerto Rico's most important seaport, and is the island's manufacturing, financial, cultural, and tourism centre. The population of the Metropolitan Area, including San Juan and its municipalities, is about 2 million inhabitants; thus, about half the population of Puerto Rico now lives and works in this area. The city has been the host of events within the sports community, including the 1979 Pan American Games, 1966 Central American and Caribbean Games, events of the 2006, 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classics, the Caribbean Series and theSpecial Olympics and MLB San Juan Series in 2010.

View from our hotel - Caribe Hilton
San Felipe del Morro Castle
Lying on the northwestern-most point of the islet of Old San Juan, Castillo San Felipe del Morro is named in honour of King Philip II of Spain. The fortification, also referred to as el Morro or 'the promontory,' was designed to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay, and defend the Spanish colonial port city of San Juan from seaborne enemies.
The construction of the citadel and its surrounding walls began in 1539 on orders of King Charles V of Spain. Its main purpose was to defend the port of San Juan by controlling the entry to its harbour.

Santamaria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery
Santamaria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery
City wall with look-out tower

City Trolley - Free ride around the old city to see the tourist attractions
Typical street in the old town
Sad to see some neglected colonial buildings.
Typical Colonial Building
Department of State Building
Pigeon Park - San Cristo Street
Afternoon cocktails

Cristo Chapel was built to commemorate what legend says was a miracle. In 1753, a young rider lost control of his horse in a race down this very street during the fiesta of St. John’s Day and plunged over the precipice. Moved by the accident, the secretary of the city, Don Mateo Pratts, invoked Christ to save the youth, and he had the chapel built when his prayers were answered. Today it’s a landmark in the old city and one of its best-known historical monuments. The chapel’s gold and silver altar can be seen through its glass doors. Because the chapel is open only 1 day a week, most visitors have to settle for a view of its exterior.
Cristo Chapel

There were 6 gates around the city.  La Puerta de San Juan is the only one remaining, making it a precious historic landmark in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.  The gate was named in honour of Saint John the Baptist.  As you walk through it, pause and notice how thick the city walls are.  As soon as you pass the gate, you’ll find vendors at the corner of the street with refreshments including Puerto Ricans’ favourite, the piragua.

La Puerta de San Juan

The Cathedral of San Juan Bautista is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Archdiocese of San Juan de Puerto Rico. The cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in San Juan, located in Old San Juan, and is the second oldest cathedral in the Americas. The Cathedral of Santa María la Menor in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, is the oldest.
The original cathedral in what was the city of Puerto Rico (changed to San Juan after the Spanish-American War) was constructed from wood in 1521. It was destroyed by a hurricane and the current structure constructed in 1540, being reshaped in later centuries, the last time being in 1917.

City Walls
La Rogativa
In Spanish, the word, “rogativa” means “supplication or prayer”.  One of the enduring legends of the 1797 British siege of San Juan is that of La Rogativa: that divine intervention led to the British abandonment of the attack following a religious procession of the women of San Juan, praying for the salvation of their city. The legend itself describes a prayer procession led by the Bishop held in honour of Saint Catherine and Saint Ursula and her eleven thousand virgin handmaidens.  

This procession left the Cathedral after dark on 30 April with every participant, many of them women, carrying a candle or torch. The procession, in prayer, wound around all the streets of the city, not returning to the Cathedral until daybreak.  Bells ringing from the towers of the Cathedral and other churches accompanied the supplicants.  The British commander, General Abercromby, upon seeing the seemingly endless line of torches, along with hearing the bells, mistook the procession for a significant reinforcement of the capital by troops from the countryside.  Recognising that the current military standoff would only worsen for the British with the arrival of so many more Puerto Rican recruits, Abercromby ordered the British troops to reembark their transports and by 1 May, the British ships were seen at full sail, heading away from the island.

Inside "Rums of  Puerto Rico" on the Paseo de la Princesa. This bar was celebrating 450 years of Puerto Rican Rum
Typical Puerto Rican Cuisine

Courtesy of Wikipedia. We searched every where to see this "Couqui" tree frog but never saw one.
Cruise ships passed by our hotel every evening.

Castillo San Cristóbal, also known as Fort San Cristóbal. It was built by Spain to protect against land based attacks on the city of San Juan. It is part of San Juan National Historic Site.

Castillo San Cristóbal is the largest fortification built by the Spanish in the New World. When it was finished in 1783, it covered about 27 acres of land and basically wrapped around the city of San Juan. Entry to the city was sealed by San Cristóbal's double gates. After close to one hundred years of relative peace in the area, part of the fortification (about a third) was demolished in 1897 to help ease the flow of traffic in and out of the walled city.

Rum shots with a touch of aniseed

This is supposedly the smallest apartment in the world.

Street Art on the walls of the Salsa club