Discover international travel for the over 50's and take a trip to visit the sites of San Juan, known as Puerto Rico's "Walled
City". It's protected by two impressive forts and houses numerous restored Spanish Colonial buildings.
Tags:Discover San Juan in Puerto Rico,Puerto Rico historical sites,San Juan forts,Spanish Colonial buildings in Latin America,TheSeasonedTraveler,george bauer,travel for senior citizens
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George: San Juan is known as the walled city. Two thirds of the wall around old San Juan is still intact. Two fourths protected San Juan, one from ocean attack, the other from land invasion. Both are impressive and worth a visit. The larger is El Moro, officially known as El Fuerza San Felipe del Moro which sits atop a high promontory overlooking the entrance to San Juan Bay. We were not to film inside so you have to see it for yourself. At the other end of old San Juan, El Fuerza de San Cristobal, at one time the largest fort the Spaniards ever built in the New World. The US National Park Service maintains both fortifications. Male: I really enjoyed the historical sites. I probably dragged my feet at El Moro, my wife would’ve been happy if we’ve left a little bit earlier but again being able to look at history that’s four or five hundred years old. George: The streets here are not exactly paved with gold but they are paved with cobbles of atequine, a blue stone cast from furnace slag. They were brought here as ballast on Spanish ships. Time and moisture have given them their characteristic color. I find them much more attractive than the gray cobblestones in Europe. Old San Juan has more than 400 restored 16th and 17th century Spanish colonial buildings and has several plazas. The most popular is Plaza de San Jose. At the center stands the bronze statue of Ponce de Leon made from a British canon captured during a British attack in 1797 and there’s a tribute to a more modern celebrity nearby, cellist Pablo Casals. Abutting Plaza San Jose is the the Plaza del Quinto Centenario dedicated in October 1992. This plaza is the cornerstone of Puerto Rico’s commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of the New World. The sculpture rises 40 feet or 12 meters. The monumental totemic sculpture in black granite and ceramics symbolizes the earthen and clay routes of American history. Fountains provide relief to children on a sultry summer day. Not far from there Casablanca is the home of Ponce de Leon, it was closed when I visited but folks tell me I should definitely stop by on my next trip here. Built in the 1520’s San Juan Cathedral, originally had wooden walls and a thatched roof. It was destroyed by a hurricane in 1526, rebuilt in 1540, looted in 1598 and damaged by another hurricane in 1615. The cathedral as seen today is the result of work done in 1917 when major restorations were completed. From the old to the new within old San Juan. There’s plenty of upscale shopping along Calle Del Cristo and along San Francisco and Fortaleza Streets. And the place to meet and greet in old San Juan is Plaza de Armas, the old main square. It’s not only popular with people, pigeons come to bathe here in great numbers. If you lose your way, there’s help on many street corners. Representatives of the Puerto Rican tourism company can provide directions, maps, advice and travel tips. To get around old San Juan, take a leisurely foot tour. Take your time amid the narrow steep streets and watch out for very heavy traffic. If you don’t have to drive in old San Juan, leave the rental car behind. Remember too, it can be hot and humid here in the summer. Still there’s an unmistakable charm about this old world city on a new world island, this couple from New York returns here often because of the contrasts between this town and their hometown. Male: It’s completely different. Female: No hustling and bustling. You know you can relax down here. There’s no rushing. If you go to a restaurant in New York City, they give you check before you ask. They want you to leave. But here they don’t care, you can sit there for two or three hours. George: Puerto Rico can be a baffling place for Americans even seasoned travelers. It is part of the US. The dollar is the currency. Flying to and from the States means no customs or immigration stops, no passport is needed. Spanish and English are meant to be the languages in use here and most hotel workers or shop keepers speak both. But once you get away from the cities, you’ll hear less and less English. That has frustrated this couple from Florida, who came here to celebrate their eighth wedding anniversary. Female: It’s kind of strange because it’s supposed to be the US but then it’s not the US because of the fact that when you go places, it’s still kind of hard to communicate with people but it’s very beautiful.