Wandering Old San Juan, Puerto Rico with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

Who are these people?   What are they doing?

Ponce de Leon

Ponce de Leon

Here, in the Plaza de Colon in Old San Juan we found Ponce de Leon, the first governor of Puerto Rico.   Searching for the Fountain of Youth, in Puerto Rico and in the American state of Florida, today he is promoting benefits of drinking clean water.   It must work, he was born in 1474 and he looks pretty good.   A short walk took us to the Franciscan Chapel, built by the Third Order of Saint Francis.

Franciscan chapel

Franciscan chapel

This is not the most popular church, so it was almost empty.

Inside chapel

Inside chapel

But so beautiful and made humans and ducks feel at peace.   On the walls, the Stations of the Cross, were intricately carved.

Station of the Cross XI

Station of the Cross XI

This is number 11, the nailing of Jesus to the cross.   Much of Old San Juan features restaurants and tourist shops.   But, it is part of the city and many people live here.   From the 1500s, the cobblestone streets are quite narrow.

Narrow Street

Narrow Street

The humans just wanted to wander down these streets, not wanting to eat or shop now.   On the main, wider streets, tourist buses take people between the two Spanish Castillos that we previously showed you.   Also taking humans to the cruise port.   Yes, the cruise ships leave from this area also.   Look at the decorations on this bus.

Very colorful bus

Very colorful bus

From the bus, we saw the government building for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, flying the flag of the United States of America.

Puerto Rico Government building

Puerto Rico Government building

Some people in the world are trying to reduce their life, their possessions, and reduce their carbon footprints.   This house does that.   This little house is only 5 feet wide.

Little house is only 5 feet wide

Little house is only 5 feet wide

That really is little.   Not everybody wants to live in a space that small though.   On this narrow street, the apartments are fairly small, but the curved balconies seem wonderful.

Great balconies

Great balconies

And, no buses on this street.   You could spend several days exploring Old San Juan, but we were only here for one day.   We loved it, but we wanted to go to the beach.   We will take you there next time.

Castillo San Cristobal, San Juan, Puerto Rico with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

We are loving our time in Puerto Rico.   Last time we showed you Castillo San Felipe del Morro, the Spanish defense from sea attacks.   Now we will show you Castillo San Cristobal, the Spanish defense from land attacks.   This was the biggest European fortification in the Americas.

Castillo San Cristobal

Castillo San Cristobal

Canons were once housed here, to defend the Spanish claim to Puerto Rico.

Canon was inside

Canon was inside

Let’s walk up this incline and enter the fortress.

Let's go up

Let’s go up

Looking to the sea, this fortress offered an advantageous view of the sea and the land.

View of Atlantic. Love the colors of the water

View of Atlantic. Love the colors of the water

As we enter Castillo San Cristobal, we notice we will be climbing more inclines.

Entering the fortress

Entering the fortress

This Castillo has three levels.   We are on level 1, sitting on the window of the Troops Quarters.

Troops Quarters

Troops Quarters

Remember that ships sailing from Europe, 4,000 miles to the east, sailed down the coast of Africa where they used the winds and currents to reach Puerto Rico, and then on to the rest of the New World.   We are now on the top level, and it is windy here.

View and three flags

View and three flags

These three flags flew over Puerto Rico.   The bottom is the Burgundy Cross.   This was the Spanish military flag that flew here during most of the Spanish colonial period.    It was adopted in 1506 by Philip the Handsome, King of Castile, to honor his mother, Mary Duchess of Burgundy.   The middle is the flag of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.   And the top flag is that of the United States of America.   Here is the bell.

Bell

Bell

We love the old bells.   From here, you would be able to see any approaching threat, by sea or land.

View to the east

View to the east

We like this panorama of the coast between the two Castillos.

Panorama with markings on building roofs

Panorama with markings on building roofs

This is a favorite photo from Bucket’s dad.   Looking toward Castillo San Felipe del Morro, again we admire the strategic location of these fortresses.

View to the west

View to the west and Castillo San Felipe del Morro

We, the Colorado Traveling Ducks, and humans enjoyed exploring and learning about our history and the Spanish defenses to protect Puerto Rico.   We think you would enjoy wandering through this part of Old San Juan, also.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico with Colorado Traveling Ducks

This is our first full day in San Juan, Puerto Rico.   Our cab took us to Old San Juan, the original walled city of San Juan, Puerto Rico.   Christopher Columbus arrived in San Juan in 1493 on his second voyage to the New World.   For Spain, he claimed all the riches of what is now called Puerto Rico.   This included gold, silver, gems, and spices, in addition to the first deep water port between Europe and the New World.   Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States and Old San Juan Historic Site is under the protection of the U.S. National Park Service.   There are two old fortresses, built by the Spanish, here.   The Castillo San Felipe del Morro was to defend against attacks from the sea.   The Castillo San Cristobal, about a 30 minute walk away, was built to defend against attacks from land.   We, the Colorado Traveling Ducks, will show you Castillo San Felipe del Morro today.

Here is the sign. Where is Castillo San Felipe del Morro?

Here is the sign. Where is Castillo San Felipe del Morro?

We can see the lighthouse in the background, and realize we have a long walk ahead of us.   This cemetery was conveniently located on the coast near the Castillo.

Cemetery by the sea

Cemetery by the sea

The city, like many old cities, was protected by a wall.

Looking through the wall

Looking through the wall

Today we have a peaceful view through that wall.   The grass here was incredibly soft in places.

Keep walking ducks

Keep walking ducks

This was once a golf course, but we still must keep walking.   We think this building, built partially underground is interesting.

We like this building

We like this building

Let’s go inside Castillo San Felipe del Morro.

Entrance to Castillo San Felipe del Morro

Entrance to Castillo San Felipe del Morro

Bucket claimed this chair and seems to be enjoying a short rest.

Chair fit for a king. King Bucket?

Chair fit for a king.   King Bucket?

This space, once the living quarters for the commander of El Morro, but later, a place of punishment.

In jail. Looking through bars to the sea

In jail. Looking through bars to the sea

Zeb and Soapy enjoy the view, through the bars, of the sea.  Bucket found another prison cell.

Bucket and Chip--don't go inside that prison cell.

Bucket and Chip–don’t go inside that prison cell.

Don’t go inside there, Bucket and Chip.   We found this canon, now inside a room.

Canon. No longer in use

Canon. No longer in use

But it was not always inside this room.   This path takes us to the former home of the canon.

Where the canons used to be

Where the canons used to be

The canon was pointed through this lookout.

Canon pointed out this space

Canon pointed out this space

We ducks wanted to sit on the ledge, but the humans said it was too windy for us.   But we love to watch the water.   Castillo San Felipe del Morro has six levels and we found the bell on the 6th level.

Bell

Bell

This lighthouse looks pretty new, doesn’t it?

Fourth and newest lighthouse

Fourth and newest lighthouse

It is the fourth lighthouse built here.   This one is 51 feet above the 6th level of El Morro.   The lamp is 182 feet above sea level and this lighthouse and lamp still serve ships every night.   This lighthouse was built in 1908.   Originally made of bricks, it was restored in the 1990s.   We ducks are impressed by this castle.   But we are also impressed and a little frightened by the wind here.   We like the sea, but we don’t want to be blown into it and lost forever.   The humans kept us safe.   More about Old San Juan next time.