PLACES OF INTEREST
Visitors to Puerto Rico will find many places of interest in the capital city of San Juan, including restaurants, shops, casinos, nightclubs and luxury hotels with access to the beach, among others. The Old San Juan area, which was incorporated into the National Register of Historic Places in the 1950s, offers museums, churches, fortifications, restored residences, restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, cafes and some examples of colonial architecture Spanish (16th and 17th centuries) more authentic throughout the hemisphere. Inland, in the mountains, you will find colonial villages, inns, typical food restaurants.
Old San Juan – Old San Juan, founded in 1521, is the oldest capital city in the United States. Among its many points of interest are El Morro, built by the Spaniards between 1540 and 1586 to protect the bay of San Juan from the invaders; La Fortaleza, built in 1540, which is the oldest executive mansion under continuous use in the New World; Museo Pablo Casals, which contains memories of the famous cellist, who resided on the island the last 20 years of his life; And St. John’s Cathedral, one of the oldest Christian churches in the hemisphere. Outside Old San Juan, in the Santurce area, is the new Puerto Rico Art Museum, with a collection of Puerto Rican art spanning from the 17th century to the present.
Ponce – The second largest city is located just 90 minutes south of San Juan by car. Since 1968, more than 500 historic buildings dating from the mid-19th century through the 1930s have been painstakingly restored. The Ponce Art Museum, designed by Edward Durrell Stone, houses the largest collection of art in the Caribbean. The museum, which was founded by former governor Luis A. Ferré, contains over 2,500 works, including an excellent display of Renaissance, Baroque and pre-Raphaelite art. Other points of interest in Ponce include the Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Park, the oldest indigenous cemetery in the West Indies. A few minutes away is the newly restored Hacienda Buena Vista, a coffee plantation and grain mill that dates back to the 19th century and is today an interesting museum.
San Germán – The Porta Coeli Church, built in 1606 is the oldest original church under the American flag. The town of San Germán is the second oldest of the island and retains much of its charm and colonial architecture.
Observatory of Arecibo – It remains on the north coast, two hours from San Juan in the town of Arecibo (founded in 1556). Here is the world’s largest radio telescope, which matches thirteen American football fields in size. Scientists at Cornell University and the National Science Foundation analyze space radio emissions to study distant planets and galaxies.
PARK AND AREAS OF RECREATION
El Yunque – El Yunque National Forest, is the only rainforest in the United States. Recently the El Portal Forest Center was inaugurated in El Yunque, an exhibition space, plazas and gardens of 3,000 square meters that expand the educational and recreational offer of the Forest. The rains in the forest do not last long and can be sheltered in any of the many refuges in the park. Several trails allow visitors to hike through waterfalls, cliffs, tree ferns and wildflowers. The El Yunque area is a sanctuary for birds, including the Puerto Rican parrot, a protected species with blue-green plumage and red breast. Do not forget to listen to the coquí, the small amphibian that sings only in Puerto Rico. Camping is allowed in some areas of the park, but you will need a permit (50 cents per person per night). To do so, call (787) 723-1718.
Black Toro Forest Reserve – This forest reserve boasts the highest peak in Puerto Rico. Thanks to its height the view is spectacular; From there you can see the coastal plains and the intense blue of the Caribbean Sea. Walking on the paths of the reserve takes between an hour and a half and two and a half hours. One of them reaches the observation tower, from where you can enjoy views of the Matrulla and Guayabal lakes. The campsite offers sanitary facilities and showers and even a pool of spring water that opens to the public between May and September. You can visit the conservatory, guarded by a group of citizens in the golden age plant lovers, any day of the week between 7:00 a.m. And 12:00 p.m. For guided tours, please call (787) 867-3040 between 7:00 a.m. And 4:00 p.m. From Monday to Friday, or on weekends between 9:00 a.m. And 4:00 p.m.
Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park – The project is a recreational park, in harmony with nature, whose objective is to raise awareness among users of the beauties and the benefits of our environment. It is a sustainable development with an impact of the structure in the area of ??less than 0.5% of land. The park offers several outdoor activities for the enjoyment of the whole family. One of them is the canopy tour which offers 4 different tours. The first tour consists of 8 platforms with cables of height and variable length. The second tour consists of a 1,400 meter long “Superman” zipline (the second longest in the world, the first in Africa). The third tour consists of two “ziplines” combined with 5 hanging bridges. The fourth tour consists of two “ziplines” combined with “rappelling” and “climbing” on a rock that is part of the property. The park also offers Mountain Bike Trail Tours created by world champion Marla Streb which is divided into 3 additional tours.
Forest of Guánica- In this forest is the largest bird population on the island, in addition to having among its residents a guayacan tree with more than 1,000 years.
Río Abajo Forest Reserve – This forest reserve, which has almost 1,600 hectares of protected land, has 70 trails and paths that are ideal for viewing 223 plants and 175 species of wildlife. Of the land, 800 hectares are destined to plantations of wood (teak, mahogany, and maga). For guided tours, please call (787) 880-6557. The forest is also a bird sanctuary. You must obtain a free permit from the Scientific Division of the Department of Natural Resources of Puerto Rico before visiting, by calling (787) 722-1429. In 1994 new camping facilities, barbecues and two pools of spring water were added. Those who want to camp also need a permit from the Department of Natural Resources (787) 880-6557. It costs 50 cents per person per night.
Forest of Guajataca – This forest has more than 40 trails, three picnic areas and barbecues, with tables in the shade, drinking water and parking. For guided tours, call the San Juan offices of the Department of Natural Resources (787) 724-3647. You will be able to camp in one of the two camping areas with a permit of 50 cents per person per night.
Indigenous Ceremonial Parks – Puerto Rico has two places where our indigenous heritage is breathed. One of them is the Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Park, near Ponce, where the oldest indigenous cemetery in the Antilles is located. Tibes has seven ceremonial plazas, two dance areas and a reproduction of a Taino village, as well as a museum with a collection of ceremonial artifacts, pottery and indigenous jewelry. The other place is the Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Park, built by the Taíno Indians about 800 years ago for fun and religious ceremonies. Stone monoliths, some with petroglyphs, border some of the 10 plazas. The Tainos were playing a game in the squares that some historians consider forerunner of football or soccer.