Old San Juan, San Juan

4.5 out of 5 stars 47 Reviews

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  • grandmaR's Profile Photo

    City Wall and City Gate

    by grandmaR Written Apr 9, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    San Juan is known as "La Ciudad Amurallada" (the walled city). The wall is made of solid sandstone blocks and held together with mortar, limestone, sand and water. They are 40 feet high in places, 45 feet thick at the base

    The red City Gate is the only remaining city gate. It was called the Water Gate. It was one of six original massive wooden doors that, centuries ago, were closed at sundown to protect the residents. We saw this only from the ship but this pretty red-painted Puerta de San Juan or San Juan Gate is where you would have entered the city. Above the gate is inscribed “Benedictus qui venit in nomine domini”- Latin for “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”. The wall is about 15 feet thick. If you go straight through the gate and up the hill, you are following the same path many sailors took after a long voyage - straight up the street, to the cathedral, to thank God for a safe journey.

    Some of the wall has been torn down in order for the city to expand.

    Website: http://www.nps.gov/archive/saju/walls.html

    City Gate in the wall from the ship Wall of the city with Coast Guard boat Wall of Fort San Cristobal Top of wall from the road
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  • gdilieto's Profile Photo

    Must-see: Old San Juan

    by gdilieto Updated Dec 21, 2008

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    The cobblestone streets and colonial buildings of Old San Juan have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Site and every visitors to San Juan will likely come here without needing of any specific recommendation.

    The area is only few square blocks wide and can easily be walked around. I have no specific places, monuments, squares, buildings to recommend, all the places blend well together and there is really in my opinion no monument, plaza, building etc standing out; just walk around and enjoy the architecture and the atmosphere. The most picturesque blocks in my view are bounded by Calle Luna and Calle San Sebastián South/North and Calle Tanca and Calle del Cristo East/West, but, wherever you are landed, Old San Juan is so compact that you don't need a map and, if you enjoy walking, you will likely walk through every "calle" of the center.

    The Northern part of Old San Juan overlooks the ocean, and it is here where you will find the two forts El Morro and San Cristóbal. The Southern part faces the San Juan's Bay and it is especially enjoyable at sunset, when the sun sets on the Bay and you can enjoy scenic walks along the bay side. After dark you may want head to Southern part of Calle Fortaleza, adjacent to Plaza Colón, the center of dining and night entertainment.

    Those who have visited other colonial towns in Mexico, Central and Latin America will find Old San Juan different. A Colonial Town with a mild flavor, with the look but not the soul of Latin America, the colors without the sounds and the atmosphere, a kind of reconstruction of a Spanish-colonial Town in an American environment.

    It is enjoyable though and a must-see if you come in town.

    Old San Juan Old San Juan Old San Juan Old San Juan Old San Juan
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  • wilocrek's Profile Photo

    Coastal Road: Calle San Miguel

    by wilocrek Written May 15, 2008

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    Calle San Miguel is a picturesque coastal road that runs between El Morro and San Cristobal. On one side of the road you have a sweeping view of the ocean and the other side are pastel colored houses built in colonial style. If you planning on seeing both forts I would recommend parking at one and then walking down this road to the other, its a perfect way to spend a afternoon in Old San Juan!

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  • klj&a's Profile Photo

    San Juan

    by klj&a Written May 10, 2008

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    Great walking city. Everything is within walking distance with the excpetion of the Bacardi factory. The streets are filled with shops and restaurants. Especially Fortaleza St and San Francisco Street. The thing I'll remember about San Juan is the unusual blue cobble stone streets. Very unique.

    Fountain Fortaleza Street Cristo Street

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  • jandris's Profile Photo

    Holiday Lights in Old San Juan

    by jandris Written Feb 15, 2008

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    Since we were booked in the Wyndham Old San Juan Resort, it was a natural that we would walk down the main street that was parallel to the beach there. And since we were there in mid-December, the holiday lights were up and quite spectacular.

    Directions: Old San Juan

    Felice Navidad 2004 We found a nice restaurant And all the trees along the walk were lit up
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  • Tom_Fields's Profile Photo

    Fiesta San Sebastian

    by Tom_Fields Written Feb 10, 2008

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    In mid-January, when most of America is busy shovelling snow or quietly sitting by the fire, San Juan comes alive. It's time for the Fiesta de San Sebastian, an annual street party with impromptu musical shows and parades. It's centered around San Sebastian St, in Old San Juan.

    It's very crowded, and often seems rather chaotic. But the police are everywhere, and keep order. Just look out for pickpockets; it's perfect for them.

    Directions: Old San Juan, around the Iglesia (church) and Plaza San Jose.

    The fiesta in front of Iglesia San Jose Revelers on stilts One of the parades A band performing at Quincentennial Plaza Just a few of the many vendors
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  • Tom_Fields's Profile Photo

    The Plazas

    by Tom_Fields Written Feb 10, 2008

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    Old San Juan is known for its beautiful plazas, or public squares. The places give the city some open space, alleviating the cramped feel of having too many buildings and people in too small an area. The best known is the Plaza de Armas, located in front of City Hall. In early January, it's still festooned with Christmas decorations.

    Another example is the Plaza de Cuartel, in front of La Ballaja. Yet another is the Quincentennial Plaza, with its totem pole. And, at the entrance to Old San Juan is the Plaza Colon, named for Christopher Columbus.

    Directions: Around Old San Juan. The phone number is for Tourist Information.

    Phone: 787-722-1709

    Website: http://welcome.topuertorico.org/city/sanjuan.shtml

    Plaza de Armas, with City Hall Quincentennial Plaza, with the totem pole Plaza Cuartel Plaza Colon City Hall by night
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  • bsfreeloader's Profile Photo

    ...

    by bsfreeloader Written Jan 9, 2008

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    Old San Juan is a great place to spend at least a few days. Consisting of less than ten blocks north to south and east to west, Old San Juan’s narrow, cobblestone streets are best explored on foot. Many of the colorful buildings have been taken over by shops and restaurants competing for money from cruise ship passengers, but the further away from the cruise pier you get the more the old town shines. Whether simply admiring the architecture, seeking out the local galleries and eateries, or entertaining yourself watching the cruisers (almost invariably these are people who think merely stepping foot in Old San Juan is a brave thing, eating at Senor Frogs is adventurous, and standing around smoking a cigar and bullsh#$&ing in the street with another American with fish-belly white legs is experiencing Puerto Rican culture), Old San Juan will not disappoint.

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  • moiraistyx's Profile Photo

    WALK AROUND OLD SAN JUAN

    by moiraistyx Written Aug 9, 2007

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    One walk around this beautiful city and you'll fall in love. It has it's own unique charm. My favorite thing here were all the colorful houses. The old fashioned cobble stone streets are very charming also. Old San Juan is loaded with shops. It's easy to find a bargain if you don't impulse buy. My favorite store hear was called The Butterfly People, it's a store that sells preserved butterflies to use as decoration. Old San Juan is loaded with historical sites to visit, including El Morro and San Cristobal. Just about every hotel will have a walking tour map of Old San Juan available, if not pick up a free copy of Que Pasa, the local tourist magazine. The best part is most of the places to see here are free, although it will cost you a small amount to tour the forts.

    Address: Old San Juan

    Directions: You can get here by cab or by public transportation.

    Some of the many colorful houses you'll see
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  • chodearm's Profile Photo

    Cemetary

    by chodearm Updated Jul 20, 2006

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    Yukes wants this to be her final resting ground. Sandwiched between La Perla Barrio and San Cristobal this cemetary is the final stomping grounds of Ponce de Leon. How good does death get if you can forever feel the mist of the great Atlantic.

    sky,sea, cemetary
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  • XanderDone's Profile Photo

    La Plaza de las Palomas

    by XanderDone Written Jun 2, 2005

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    This is an old park that locals use to bring their kids to feed the birds here. Literally, it means "Plaza of the Doves," and all you see is pigeons (for those zoologists here, you know that pigeons are a species of dove). On the ground, there are so many pigeons that you cannot see your feet, and it looks like the ground is moving. Truly a sight to see, and younger children will get a kick out of it. Be careful where you step, though, because you might squash one of the birds. Best part: it's totally FREE! Minus the price you'd pay for the bread if you decide to bring some.

    Address: Plaza de las Palomas

    Directions: I believe it's on the southwestern side of the island.

    Plaza de las Palomas
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    La Fortaleza

    by XanderDone Written Jun 2, 2005

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    Currently the Governor's Mansion, this is the place where the Spanish government would send their hostages and inmates back in the colonial times. You can get a tour of the place, now blue but when I was last there, it was white. The tour is highly reccomended, as the guides take you down to the tiny dungeon and through the grand rooms of the "palace." A home for the conquistadors way back when, the name and shape of the edifice definatley makes one think that it is still a fortress. Even when I was a kid, I enjoyed la Fortaleza for some reason.

    Directions: At the western end of Calle San Francisco and Calle Fortaleza.

    La Fortaleza in blue in the back, center
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  • el_ruso's Profile Photo

    Paseo de la Princesa

    by el_ruso Written Mar 10, 2005

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    This is a promenade built for (and used by) the tourists who get off the cruise ships. Nonetheless, it offers great views of the city walls and the bay, and a fountain in front of which the cruiseship tourists feel compelled to photograph each other.

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    Governor's Mansion

    by el_ruso Written Mar 10, 2005

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    This elegant building is hard to see because of the fences, city wall and gardens surrounding it. This is supposed to be the oldest governor's building in the US - it dates from Spanish colonial times.

    By contrast, the congress building is a derivative of the US state capitols, without any creative or custom touches; it is located to the east of the old city.

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    Plaza de Armas

    by el_ruso Written Mar 10, 2005

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    This is the central square in the city, the site of the city's government, souvenir shops, fast food franchises, what must be a thousand pigeons, tourists, lovers sitting on a bench in the shade of a tree, older city residents chatting... You should start your tour of the city here, and end it here as well, sitting on one of the benches and taking in the atmosphere of the city.

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