Even if you're not too interested in old forts and think that when you've seen one, you've seen them all, this one is exceptional. It was built in stages, from 1539 until 1786, and even as late as WW II!. It is most impressive from the ocean looking towards land because there are 6 levels, whereas it appears to have only one storey when you approach it from land. There are lots of chambers and lookouts to explore. And don't leave without going down the circular stairway (actually the stairs are in a series of triangles- very interesting!)
A well-known landmark in San Juan is the CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE DEL MORRO or "EL MORRO". The Spaniards began construction in 1539. Francis Drake and the British attacked it and later on in 1625 so did the Dutch.
Today this World Heritage Site welcomes multitudes of tourists arriving by cruise ship. We were four of them - Hans & I and His brother and his wife from Florida. We had a wonderful time exploring the nooks and crannies of El Morro. I was intrigued by the little circular sentry cubicles or "Garitas" that are unique to this fortification, the largest in the Caribbean.
"Garitas" are small shelters with an open front to protect a sentry from the weather.
I believe we paid a $2.00 US entry fee which is very good value.
El Morro, the word itself sounds powerful
and this six-level fortress certainly is.
Begun in 1540 and completed in 1589.
San Felipe del Morro was named in honor
of King Phillip II.
Most of the walls in the fort today were
added later, in a period of tremendous
construction from the 1760's-1780's.
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Rising 140 feet above the sea, its 18-foot-thick wall proved a
formidable defense. It fell only once, in 1598, to a land assault
by the Earl of Cumberland's forces. The fort is a maze of tunnels,
dungeons, barracks, outposts and ramps. El Morro is studded
with small, circular sentry boxes called "garitas" that have become
a national symbol.
The views of San Juan Bay from El Morro are spectacular. The
area was designated a National Historic Site in February, 1949
with 74 total acres. It has the distinction of being the largest
fortification in the Caribbean.
In 1992, the fortress was restored to its historical form in honor
of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Puerto Rico by
El Morro Fortress is a National Historic Site administered by the
National Park Service.
The fort is open to the public daily from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.
As I stood on its walls, I was reminded of similar views of Fort St Augustine in Florida, the first permanent Spanish settlement in the USA and of Fort Santiago in Manila. During its colonial period, Spain built forts to guard its empire using the same basic design and standards with efficiency and skill. They served well their purpose - to guard Spain's galleon trade routes from Manila to Acapulco, then from Vera Cruz to Seville.
Standing above the massive fortress of El Morro, at the entrance to San Juan Harbor is an interesting and unique lighthouse. The first lighthouse on this site was built in 1846, and the present one in 1876. It was damaged by shellfire from the US Navy during the Spanish-American War in 1898, and rebuilt by American military forces ten years later. This is the oldest of 15 surviving light stations that can be found in Puerto Rico.
Three flags are unfurled every day near the lighthouse on the Ochoa Bastion. They are the flags of the United States of America, the flag of Puerto Rico, and the Spanish military flag, known as the Cross of Burgundy.
The one thing you MUST see if you find yourself in San Juan is Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, which is a part of the San Juan National Historic Site. This massive fort, along with San Cristobol and the walls of the old city of San Juan comprise the largest fortification ever built by the Spanish in the new world. It is also one of the oldest European structures in the Western Hemisphere, dating back to the 1500s, and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.The place is as beautiful as it is fascinating.
If possible, give yourself a couple of hours to explore here, and a real history buff could easily spend much more time and not take it all in.
El Morro is Puerto Rico's best known fortress. Spanish troops fortified this 'morro'. which means 'promontory', to keep seaborne enemies out of San Juan. Today this dramatic castle welcomes multitudes of arriving cruise ships and aircraft to the bussiest port in the Caribbean. Over two million visitors a year explore theme windswept ramparts and pageways, where the history of 400 years of Spain in Puerto Rico comes alive.
December to May 9:00am to 6:00pm
June to November 9:00am to 5:00pm
Adult Per Fort $3.00 - Day Both Forts $5.00 - 7 Days
Children 12 and under Free!
Senior Citizen (62 +) / per Fort $2.00 - Day
Young Adults (13 - 17) Per Fort $1.00 - Day
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El Morro fort is a six-level fort located 140 feet above the San Juan Bay. It took about 200 years to complete the entire complex. 'Morro'. means 'promontory', to keep seaborne enemies out of San Juan.
You can walk throughout the tunnels, barracks and dungeons of the fort. From the top level there is a great view of the ocean. You may explore the fort on your own or take a guided tour.
El morro is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from June to November and 9:00 am to 6:00 pm December.
El Morro, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and San Juan Bay, is the most striking of the city’s military fortifications (and the greatest in the Caribbean). Along with San Cristóbal Fort, El Morro has been designated a National Historic Site and is part of a World Heritage Site. It is administered by the U.S. National Park Service. Open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. English tours depart at 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM.
El Fuerte San Felipe del Morro, rodeado por el Océano Atlántico y la Bahía de San Juan, es la más impresionante de las fortificaciones militares de la Isla ( y la más grande del Caribe). Al igual que el Fuerte San Cristóbal, El Morro ha sido designado como Legado Histórico Nacional y es parte del “World Heritage Site”.
If you so desire (and have one in tow) you can join hundreds of others to fly a kite in the field in front of El Morro. It's a uniting experience between families who don't even know each other, and it embodies the true spirit of the Puerto Ricans. Just taking a day to relax with the family in a park, perhaps picnic. If you get thirsty, there are vendors on the side of the road awaiting the tourists with overpriced waterbottles. But hey, there must be a market willing to pay that price, and if they can get the money out of someone, they deserve a pat on the back.
Whether you pay the entrance fee ($3 adult) or admire this fort from the outside, it's an amazing structure. Imagine yourself transported back in time when it was used as a fortress and lookout point to prevent attacks from the land and sea.
El Morro is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Next to the El Morro is the cemetary of Santa Maria Magdalena and it has a wonderful vista of the sea.
El Morro Fortress has been guarding the San Juan harbour for centuries. This is a really neat experience if you like history. If you're on a cruise and really, really want to see El Morro, make sure you book one that will be in port early. Most cruises that visit San Juan on an Eastern Caribbean itinerary visit from 4pm or 5pm to 10 or 11. That won't work if you want to go over to El Morro. It closes to visitors at 5pm.
This a fort near the Old San Juan. You can't miss it! The construction of this fort began in 1539 to keep enemies, who were on the sea, out of San Juan. For 2,50$, you can visit El Morro. You'll have a splendid view of the coast of San Juan. Arrive early because around 1pm, there is a lot of people!
Called "El Morro," this fort stands on a rocky promontory dominating the entrance to San Juan Bay. Constructed in 1540, the original fort was a round tower, which can still be seen deep inside the lower levels of the castle. More walls and cannon-firing positions were added, and by 1787, the fortification attained the complex design you see today. This fortress was attacked repeatedly by both the English and the Dutch.
The U.S. National Park Service protects the fortifications of Old San Juan, which have been declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. With some of the most dramatic views in the Caribbean, you'll find El Morro an intriguing labyrinth of dungeons, barracks, vaults, lookouts, and ramps. Historical and background information is provided in a video in English and Spanish. The nearest parking is the underground facility beneath the Quincentennial Plaza at the Ballajá barracks (Cuartel de Ballajá) on Calle Norzagaray. Sometimes park rangers lead hour-long tours for free, although you can also visit on your own. With the purchase of a ticket here, you don't have to pay the admission for Fort San Cristóbal if you visit during the same day.
This fort protects San Juan bay. It is now a historic site run by the National Park Service. If you plan to visit only one site in old San Juan, this should be it.