The Cathedral of San Juan de Bautista dates back to 1521. As such, it is one of the oldest buildings in Puerto Rico and the second oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere. It's not very big, but to show its historic and cultural importance, the remains of Juan Ponce de Leon, the first Governor of Puerto Rico who died while allegedly searching for the Fountain of Youth in Florida, are buried in the cathedral's crypt. Also, the relics of Carlos Manuel Rodriguez Santiago, the first Puerto Rican to be beatified, can be found in the cathedral. "Beato Charlie", as he is often referred to, was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2001 when people reported having been cured from life-threatening diseases after adressing their prayers to the diceased lay minister. It is believed that Beato Charlie might eventually be recognized as a saint if more miracle stories are reported to the Vatican.
The Cathedral of San Juan is open to visitors daily from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. Admission is free.
This is the oldest church in San Juan, originally a mission. Built in the 16th century, I believe, it is quite possibly one of the most plain cathedrals you will ever see. The overwhelming simplcity of it is probably the same reason that it's so remarkable. You don't need to spend exhorbitant amounts of time in here, as it's nothing as ornate as European cathedrals.
Surrounded by narrow cobblestone streets with overhanging balconies, the San Juan Bautista Cathedral is said to be the oldest Christian church in the Western Hemisphere. Begun in the 1520s, the cathedral is still an active church. It has been restored according to strict building codes. The church is open for sightseeing, but those who enter to just look and take pictures should respect the others who come to worship or pray.
This, the spiritual and architectural centerpiece of Old San Juan, as you see it in its present form, was begun in 1540 as a replacement for a thatch-roofed chapel that was blown apart by a hurricane in 1529. Chronically hampered by a lack of funds and a recurring series of military and weather-derived disasters, it slowly evolved into the gracefully vaulted, Gothic-inspired structure you see today. Among the many disasters to hit this cathedral are the following: In 1598 the Earl of Cumberland led the British Navy in a looting spree, and in 1615 a hurricane blew away its roof. In 1908 the body of Ponce de León was disinterred from the nearby Iglesia de San José and placed in a marble tomb near the transept, where it remains today. The cathedral also contains the wax-covered mummy of St. Pio, a Roman martyr persecuted and killed for his Christian faith. The mummy has been encased in a glass box ever since it was placed here in 1862. To the right of the mummy is a bizarre wooden replica of Mary with four swords stuck in her bosom. After all the looting and destruction over the centuries, the cathedral's great treasures, including gold and silver, are long gone, although many beautiful stained-glass windows remain. The cathedral faces Plaza de las Monjas (the Nuns' Square), a shady spot where you can rest.
Originally built in the 1520's of wooden walls and a thatched roof this beautiful cathedral was then destroyed by a hurricane in 1529. It was rebuilt in 1540 and then again damaged by another hurricane in 1615.
The Cathedral is said to be an authentic and rare New World example of medieval architecture. It is quite beautiful and contains the marble tomb of the Juan Ponce de León (the island's first Govenor).
It also contains the "relic of San Pio a Roman martyr". The Cathedral still holds religious services on a regular schedule.
Located in the heart of Old San Juan is Puerto Rico’s most significant church, the Catedral San Juan Bautista. In addition to housing the tomb of Juan Ponce de Leon, the cathedral also witnessed the first ordination of a bishop in North America in 1529, and played host to Pope John Paul II.
The most impressive thing about San Juan's Cathedral is that it is unimpressive. That is quite strange for a city that has been for centuries one of the Spanish-colonial capitals of the New World where, historically, churches and cathedrals used to be the most magnificent buildings in town. Actually you can walk by it without realizing that is the Cathedral, like I did, that I had to go look on the map to figure out that was the Cathedral.
The Cathedral as we see it today (a kind of Gothic-neoclassical style), is basically the result of restoration work carried out in the early 1900s but its origin dates back to the early 1500s and it is the second-oldest cathedral in the Americas. It houses today the marble tomb of the island's first governor Juan Ponce de León and the relic of San Pio, a Roman martyr.
Built in 1521, this is the second oldest cathedral in the Americas. It's had many improvements and restorations, so much of this is from the 19th century. One of its most famous features is the tomb of the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon, who spend to many years searching for the Fountain of Youth.
Stroll back into town to see San Juan Cathedral. It is quite unremarkable on the exterior. The explorer Ponce de Leon is buired in this Cathedral. He became the first Governor of Puerto Rico by appointment of the Spanish Crown.
It might not be in the best condition, but it's a must see because it's one of the second oldest churches in the caribbean. plus, it hold the burial remains of Juan Ponce de Leon, who was seeking endlessly for the fountain of youth and who was puerto rico's first governor.
BONUS: The plaza where the church is located is one of the prettiest in all of old san juan, and there are beautiful places to stroll and Rosa de Triana (nearby restaurant) has flamenco show nightly friday through sunday that's free!
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