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Our favorite stop on our cruise was in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was a vibrant city, rich with history and culture. On a return trip 5 years later we saw more of the island.

A panoramic view from the city walls illustrates the strategic importance of the island for the Spanish and American colonies.
 

San Juan is a major port and tourist resort of the West Indies and is the oldest city under the U.S. flag.

The major attractions are within an easily walkable area encompassing the two forts and historical old town.
 

Old San Juan is a 465-year-old neighborhood originally conceived as a military stronghold. The city includes more than 400 carefully restored 16th- and 17th-century Spanish colonial buildings.

 

The 7-square-block area of the old town has evolved into a charming residential and commercial district. The streets here are paved with cobbles of adoquine, a blue stone cast from furnace slag.

At the end of the Paseo de la Princesa, a European-style 1853 urban promenade, monumental Raíces Fountain depicts the origins of Puerto Ricans – a people with descendants from the Taino Indian, African and Spanish, all blended and rising out of the sea with dolphin escorts.

 

The Capilla del Cristo (Cristo Chapel) was built in the 18th century (1753). A horseback rider took a terrible spill off the cliffs at the end of Calle Cristo. The chapel was either built to commemorate the miracle of his survival; or it was built to prevent such an accident from happening again

Old San Juan has several plazas filled with interesting statues and skirted by historic buildings.

The Alcaldia (San Juan's City Hall) was designed to look like Madrid's. It was decorated beautifully for Christmas.

 

Strict remodeling codes have allowed for the development of shops, restaurants and hotels, while preserving the Spanish colonial architecture.

The Escuela de Artes Plásticas (School of Fine Arts) was built by the Spanish colonial government in the 1800s. Previously the facilities served as an asylum for mental patients.