Old San Juan Historic District (Puerto Rico)

Old San Juan Historic District (Puerto Rico)

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 16:06
Posted in:

The Old San Jan Historic District is a National Historic Landmark District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Old San Juan is the oldest settlement within Puerto Rico and the historic colonial section of the city of San Juan.

The Old San Jan Historic District is a National Historic Landmark District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Old San Juan is the oldest settlement within Puerto Rico and the historic colonial section of the city of San Juan.

The massive fortifications are part of the La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site, which is administered by the U.S. National Park Service.

Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, Castillo de San Cristóbal, its circuit of defensive walls and La Fortaleza, also known as Palacio de Santa Catalina, are both a U.S. National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage site.


San Juan, Puerto Rico, is the oldest continuously inhabited post-European contact city in United States territory and the second oldest in the entire Western Hemisphere. Since the Spanish founded it in 1519, San Juan has served as the capital city of Puerto Rico.

San Juan evolved from a frontier community to become an important Spanish outpost and port until the United States annexed Puerto Rico in 1898 at the end of the Spanish-American War.

Located in the western corner of the beautiful San Juan Islet, the Old San Juan Historic District is the historic core of the city. Many of the oldest post-contact buildings and structures in the United States are within its 74-block radius.

Old San Juan’s historic architecture reflects four centuries of development that shaped the historic urban landscape. Today, it is the nation’s most complete Spanish urban center with its Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. These styles of architecture create a sense of drama and authority with their beautifully-detailed ornamentation, arches, and domes.

Old San Juan’s impressive fortifications include La Fortaleza, the three forts of San Felipe del Morro, San Cristóbal and San Juan de la Cruz (El Cañuelo), and a large portion of the city wall, constructed between the 16th and 19th centuries to protect the city and the Bay of San Juan.

The Spanish fortifications in San Juan are the oldest European construction in territory of the United States and one of the oldest in the Americas.

The forts and city walls are fine examples of historic military architecture that reflect the power of the early Spanish Empire and the spread of European culture.

The massive fortifications are part of the San Juan National Historic Site, which is administered by the National Park Service and featured separately in this itinerary. Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, Castillo de San Cristóbal, its circuit of defensive walls, and La Fortaleza also known as Palacio de Santa Catalina, are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Courtesy of National Park Service

Read more about its history here: Old San Juan Historic District, San Juan, Puerto Rico