Ponce Museum of Art: Designed by Edward Durrel Stone (Musum of Modern Art, NY) is the only museum of stature, located on the southern coast of Puerto Rico. The Museum was donated by a foundation established by Luis A. Ferre (Governor 968-72). The museum contains one of the most important pre-Raphaelite collections in the western hemishphere.
Houses more than 1000 paintings and 400 sculptures, including the finest collection of European works in the Carribean, such as works by Velasques, Rubens and Rodin. Home also to many important Puerto Rican pieces, some Inca and ever Thai pieces.
Ponce’s primary claim to fame is its main square – Plaza de las Delicias. The square is a typical Spanish colonial square, very similar to those found throughout South America, and features a stately cathedral, grand fountain, and famous museum, among other diversions. The many side streets flowing into the square are filled with shops and, usually, bustling with people. And the square often serves as a venue for live music, bringing together young and old alike for an afternoon or evening of fun.
Built in 1836, the Catedral de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe is another iconic symbol of Ponce. The striking blue-and-white structure also is found in the Plaza de las Delicias and is impossible to miss. Open fluctuating hours and free to visit, the church is remarkable for its stained glass windows and golden alter.
We drove up the hill to go to the Museo Castillo Serralles, and upon arriving at the top of the hill, came upon the awesome sight known as El Vigia. It is a cross, but for the non-religious, think of it as an observation tower with two decks sticking out on the side. The site of El Vigia is where the Spanish posted lookouts during the early 1800s.
We arrived at the top of the hill at 3:00pm, so we didn't think we had enough time to do both the tour of the "castle" AND El Vigia. There is a new Japanese Garden next to El Vigia, also, which would be a nice thing to browse around.
Well, perhaps on my return visit, I will actually go up into El Vigia. But here it is, in all its glory....(see photo)
Vigia Observation Tower
Adults $2, Students & Children $1
Ponce has several museums, including Museo de Arte de Ponce, Museo de la Arquitectura Ponceña, Museo de la Historia de Ponce and Parque de Bombas.
Parque de Bombas is a restored wooden firehouse from the turn of the last century.
Found in the Plaza de las Delicias, the Parque de Bombas is Ponce’s most iconic symbol. The bright red-and-black structure houses a small museum containing antique fire equipment, a timeline of historical events, and portraits of famous firefighters. For most people, the highlight is the old fire engine featuring a bell you can ring and siren you can sound. Open daily from 9 am to 6 pm, the museum is free to visit.
This house is owned by the Serralles family - the original producers of DonQ rum. It is said to be one of the most beutiful houses on the island that is open to the public and is a fine example of Spanish revival architecture.
For those who want to see the inside and the surrounding gardens there is an entrance fee (I think it's $3).
This is a large cement structure is now used as a tourist observation tower on Vigia Hill. It was built in the 1980's to commemorate an older wooden cross built in the 1800's where guards used it as a lookout point towards the harbor.
For those who want to go up there is an entrance fee, but the view is fine from the grounds of the hill.
Up until a decade ago, the Ponce's port area was something "ponceños" rather not mention. Cranes, warehouses, old rusty boats... you get the idea!! That changed dramatically with construction of Paseo La Guancha. Situated just across from the Ponce Yacht Club, La Guancha is a wooden broadwalk along the edge of the Caribbean Sea. You can loiter there with lively locals, the teen scene, the elderly and the toddler-mama set. There are kiosks selling pinchos (pork, chicken or fish kebabs) and other local treats (cholesterol watchers BEWARE!!), simple meals, cold beer and drinks. Each kiosk has music and/or dj's. The whole area bursts into life on weekends. There's an open-air stage where local and international artists perform, usually for free.
We stopped by on the freeway twice to see the palm trees planted in a design of a plane. You have to be on a plane to see the whole design of the airplane. But, on the freway, a part of the design can only be seen. It's worth stopping though to rest from our trip and to get out since we didn't have air conditioning on our van. It was hot and humid there.
A visit to the farm today is a journey into the past. It is a “working” coffee plantation, that recaptures rural life in 19th century Puerto Rico.
Hacienda Buena Vista is open to groups by prior arrangement on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Friday through Sunday it is open to the general public, but it is a good idea to call a few days before your trip for reservations.
Every tour of historic Ponce should start at Plaza Las Delicias, historical and physical center of the city. The plaza's origins go back to 1692, when Ponce was founded and named in honor of the Ponce de Leon (Florida's discoverer and 1st governor of Puerto Rico) family. Today, this delightful square has shady grounds and a large fountain. Two historic buildings divide it: The centuries-old Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the distinctive red and black Parque de Bombas, built in 1882 and long used as the city's firehouse, now a museum.
Visit Castillo Serralles,is located at El Vigia and from there you have the city at your feet, because you can see the whole city. Visit the museum of arts, Baños de Coamo,is famous for the natural therapeutic waters, they are naturally hot and heals differents conditions, go fishing and beach all year long.
For example:Baños de Coamo, has this specials natural waters, and is the only place in the world that have this resource. Some people with arthritis come over to have a bath in this waters, but you cann't stay in them no longer than 15mins. per day. But is a unique place that has restaurant, rooms to stay, bar & pool.
This is one of the largest structure in Ponce. Inside is pretty plain but the stained glass windows near the ceiling is worth a look.
Parque de Bombas is a red and black wooden firehouse and is about a century old. This museum / monument is free to the public.
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