The beautiful island of Puerto Rico is located 382 kilometres from the Dominican Republic and 1,851 kilometres from the coast of Florida. With a long history of Spanish colonies, Puerto Rico’s human story actually goes back thousands of years and has seen the island change hands many times. With the abundance of Puerto Rico resorts, beach activities and beautiful terrains to visit, the history of this unique US territory can often be overlooked in favour of the luxury and leisure side of the tourism. With enough time spent exploring the island, it’s long history will begin to reveal itself right before your eyes. From historic monuments to beautiful Spanish architecture, here are just some of the best spots in Puerto Rico to dive deep into its expansive and colourful history.
Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Park
Located in the town of Utuado, the Caguana Indigenous Park is dedicated to preserving and exploring the last indigenous people of Puerto Rico. With a culture dating between the 7th and 11th century and stretching into Columbus’s first in the late 14th, the Taino culture once saw at least 60,000 inhabitants. After they were ravaged by European disease and oppression, the Taino tribe were all but eradicated.
This park is dedicated to the lost tribe and explores the ceremonies, dances, architecture and art of the Taino people. With a 5 dollar admission fee for adults and 4 dollars for children, this Central Mountain Range based memorial ground includes pottery, petroglyphs and many other artifacts once belonging to the indigenous Puerto Rico population.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Open from 9 am till 6 pm daily, the Castillo San Felipe del Morro is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a striking reminder of the work fo the Spanish Conquistadors. The wall was created to protect the harbour from numerous battles against pirates and warring countries, and now in more peaceful times, gifts guests with stunning views of the Caribbean Sea and swathes of green fields.
The stunning blue La Fortaleza is still in use today as a governors mansion but was built all the way back in 1533. This makes it one of the oldest buildings still in use in the New World and is free of charge for tourists and visitors.
Fuerte San Cristóbal
Whether you’re enjoying the scenic views on the Montana Restaurant terrace or soaking in the views of San Juan, make sure you don’t miss the incredible architectural feat of the Fuerte San Cristobal. This strategic fort was built over 27 acres of land in 1634 and was designed to stave off coastal attacks against the city. Full of tunnels, barracks and artillery sites, this fortress also offers beautiful clifftop views over the city.
Capitolio de Puerto Rico
The headquarters for governance in Puerto Rico, the Capitol Building was built in 1929 and acts as a stunning statement of Puerto Rico’s territorial status and unique role in world affairs. During your tour of the Capitol Building, make sure you see the rotonda’s Constitution of the Commonwealth and the beautifully crafted mosaics overhead.