La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico

Between the 15th and 19th centuries, a series of defensive structures was built at this strategic point in the Caribbean Sea to protect the city and the Bay of San Juan. They represent a fine display of European military architecture adapted to harbour sites on the American continent.

For the explorers and the colonists of the New World who came from the east, Puerto Rico was an obligatory stopping-place in the Caribbean. From this evolved its primordial strategic role at the beginning of the Spanish colonization. The island was for centuries a stake disputed by the Spanish, French, English and Dutch. The fortifications of the bay of San Juan, the magnificent port to which Puerto Rico owes its name, bear witness to its long military history.

San Juan had the first municipal government in the New World outside Santo Domingo, as well as the first military presidios in Spanish America. By the 19th century, the old city had become a charming residential and commercial district. The city itself, with its institutional buildings, museums, houses, churches, plazas and commercial buildings, is part of the San Juan Historic Zone which is administered by municipal, State and Federal agencies.

Since 1983 it is a Unesco site.

Thanks to Antonio for the postcard.

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Thanks to Sharon for the postcard.

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