If you're in Old San Juan, you're going to walk right by the forts here as they are directly by the road. They are very old forts (construction began in the mid 1500's)--in fact, right before I got there, 50 feet of a wall collapsed along the road--and they took hundreds of years to complete. For example, El Morro was completed in 248 years. These fortifications were in 5 battles, including the Spanish American war in 1898 when the US Navy bombed San Juan.
The history is interesting and the sites aren't very far from each other. I learned about the area from another park ranger, but I know you can take official guided tours, like at any other park. The staff, obviously, is bilingual or multilingual. It's $3.00 to enter the fort grounds and if you're going to do both, I believe there's a fee of $5.00.
This is a historical site. I just passed by here as I was just walking around the city. I had few hours to kill so I decided to go check out the Plaza del Immigrante. It is where the statue of the Al Immigrante is.
There are also many old buildings close by like the Departnent of Tourism and the Department of Commerce. Not much to see here except that while you are here you can see the ocean.
This is one of the historical sites of Puerto Rico. It is adjacent to the El Morro. When you go to San Juan, make sure to see these two historical sites first before you head to the shopping area in old San Juan.
Both historical sites are very huge in area (it is farther than I thought to walk) and because of lack of time, I was not able to explore the castle. I only saw the outside of it. (Sigh...I have to come back to see it... sigh, again...)
I took the outskirts of the El Morro beside fortress (wall) close to the water, and by the time that I was able to climb up all the way to El Morro grounds, heading to the Castillo de San Cristobal, I was running out of time. We had to go to the airport and since the traffic was bad over there, we had to make sure that we were at the airport four hours before our flight. (That was one of the bad consequence of travelling with a lot of kids- there were 16 kids with us and we want to make sure that they have all their necessary papers with them!).
The walk is far and due to the hot weather, it was harder than I thought to walk. So, as a tip, make sure to go to San Cristobal first then take the trolley, which is free, then head to the El Morro or vice versa. The trolley's schedule is every 30 minutes and it takes at least 15 minutes to the castle. The driver of the trolley usually wait for other passengers at the front of the castles.
During the Spanish times, the government built so many churches and one of them is the San Jose Church in the center of the Old San Juan.
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