Old San Juan,

Puerto Rico

One of the most pleasant cities anywhere, filled with excellent shopping, dining & historic sites.

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Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

The crown jewel of Puerto Rico is Old San Juan, a seven-block area once completely enclosed by a city wall and guarded by one of the hemisphere's mightiest fortresses.

Founded in the early 1500s as a military stronghold, Old San Juan by the 19th century had transformed into a picturesque residential and commercial district.

Today, this thriving community of narrow streets looks almost like a movie set, with its pastel-colored buildings flanked by wrought-iron, filigreed balconies. (See Old San Juan Street Map)

Many of the major buildings are flanked by small shops and apartments.

The town of Old San Juan takes at least a full day to thoroughly explore.

Old San Juan is not just an historic shell but a thriving, very lively place, particularly at night when the big department stores close down and the small cafes come to life.

Strolling the streets after dark (you'll probably be surprised--and reassured--at the number of policemen you see), the shoppers and most of the motorized traffic now gone, it's possible to imagine what life may have been like here several hundred years ago.

You may well stumble upon a small eatery where no one speaks English, though the menu is likely to have English translations. Be adventurous and have some fun.

How far wrong can you go in a land that bottles Coca-Cola and where soap operas are even more popular than in the U.S.?

Because traffic is often heavily congested and parking spaces almost impossible to find, the best way to explore Old San Juan is on foot.

The place to start is the island's main landmark, the fortress San Felipe del Morro.

Next Page (Old San Juan Walking Tour Part 1)

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