Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Castillo San Cristobal and El Morro

I love San Juan. There's nothing like going on a cruise and visiting a place that is at least somewhat similar to your homeland. I mean, sure, not everyone speaks English all the time, but the sheer knowledge that one is in a United States territory is slightly comforting.

Probably my favorite places to visit while in San Juan are situated along the water--massive structures that are easily visible as ships enter the pier.

Castillo San Cristobal Y Puerto Rico Capital
Castillo San Cristobal

El Castillo San Felipe del Morro
El Morro

Forts have always been an interesting thing to visit in general for me, but these two are without a doubt my favorites--and they're situated practically a stone's throw from one another!

San Cristobal and El Morro have both been around for a long time--El Morro since the 1500s, and San Cristobal a century later. Both were constructed during the Spanish reign over the isle of Puerto Rico, and each served a distinct purpose: El Morro was designed to protect against attacks from sea, while San Cristobal was to guard attacks from land.

Both are, of course, still standing today and are operated by the U.S. National Park Service. They are both easily reachable from the cruise ship pier, and a drive from, say, the airport, will only take ten minutes barring any traffic.

View Larger Map
Both forts can be seen here: El Morro in the left corner, and San Cristobal on the right, at about mid-picture.

There is a price for entry. Adults 16 and older must pay $3 per fort, or can pay $5 for both forts. Children 15 and younger are absolutely free!

Much of both forts are open to the public. San Cristobal makes great use of its tunnels and has some fantastic views from atop the fort, especially of the pier--this makes for a fantastic photo opportunity. El Morro also makes amazing use of tunnels and inside areas, and has some brilliant views in its own right.

71 Looking down on the Port from the Walls of Fort San Cristobal Old San Juan 11-25-08
View of cruise ship pier from San Cristobal

America put a hole here with a battleship in 1898
One of the inside areas of El Morro... apparently, good ol' America put plenty of holes in this area with cannon fire and what not

For more information, visit ... it's a very good site to learn more about the area.

Whenever you're in San Juan, I have to say... do NOT miss these places. Try, at least, to visit one of them (I recommend San Cristobal)... Old San Juan has some amazing places to see, but these very well may take the cake. A can't-miss for anyone even vaguely interested in forts!

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