Castillo San Felipe del Morro (El Morro) in San Juan, Puerto Rico

If you are taking a trip to San Juan there are two places that are must-sees as far as I am concerned. The first is what is officially the San Juan National Historic Site, part of the U.S. National Parks Service. (The second is Old San Juan but that’s another blog post.)

As you approach El Morro (or Castillo San Felipe del Morro and the main fort of the Site)  from the mainland side it is very imposing. Started back in 1539 by the authorization of King Charles V of Spain, the fort has grown over the years. 400 years to be precise. Achieving its final design as you see it today in 1787, the fort is a massive and multi-leveled (6 levels) marvel from an age of no technology and man-made structures. Honestly, can you imagine the building of a completely (what we would call) brick structure of 6 levels without a crane, forklift or any such modern equipment?

Originally the fort, and Puerto Rico, was under Spanish rule and endured many attacks from other foreign forces such as Sir Francis Drake (an Englishman), Boudewijn Hendricksz (a Dutchman) and then the United States Navy. As you might guess the U.S., via the Treaty of Paris, came to rule (if one can say that of the U.S. politics) in 1898. Along with the sister fort, El Canuelo, El Morro protected the entrance to the San Juan bay.

The fort, along with the sister fort, El Canuelo, and the wall surrounding much of the city, lie in the National Park Historic Site as well as also being declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations.

The original lighthouse was built in 1843, under the Spanish rule, and replaced in 1908, as seen today, by the U.S. Each level of the fort served its purpose. I particularly thought that the highest level, which houses the jail cells, was the most ingenious level. I can’t imagine being a prisoner in the hot San Juan sun on the top level of the fort.

When you enter the fort you see in front of you the ramp, as I call it, that they would roll the cannons down. It also has steps on each side so that you were able to walk up and down. It is a steep grade and as you exit the tunnel-feeling ramp it opens up to the open level of the fort where the cannon and sentry boxes (garitas) guard the island.

The sentry boxes, also known as garitas, are the dome covered and box-like structures scattered around the open level of the fort. Imagine a native San Juan man standing in the garita watching for any ships that might approach the island. A hot job, to say the least.

Overall, it is a wonderful place to visit with an island climate, a step back into time, and lots of little nooks and crannies to explore!

Part of the “Travel With Me!” series

Travel With Me street

And for more info on the fort:

Wikipedia

US Parks Service

Frommers

52 Tuesdays Challenge #5: Tree

Nature is amazing. Some of the scenery I see along the way shows me that there is no end to the creativity of nature. So the word this Tuesday is Tree.

Being as I travel through a lot of rural areas and have been blessed to travel to the Caribbean I had a few tree photos stashed in my library.

This first photo is from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Along the Princess Walk there are trees that are completely twisted!

San Juan twisted tree

 

This second photo is from Gentry, Arkansas. There is little lake there hidden in the woods where the autumn sun made the colors just gorgeous!

 

Arkansas fall

 

This tree was in a shopping center in Oregon in the fall. The colors were so strong that I had to play with the photo a bit to give it a different look. I like the effect that I chose for it.

 

OR tree

 

So, now you know what is next! Show me your trees!!!

Where’s My Backpack Travel Challenge: Curves

Here are a few pics from San Juan Puerto Rico. Two are from El Morro, the fort – the first of the window looking into the chapel and the second from the entry of the fort looking to the main level of the fort. The other has appeared in a previous (and the most popular) FR&A post of a side street in SJ

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Part of the Where’s My Backpack Challenge: Curves

Where’s My Backpack Challenge: Tradition

I truly like participating in the weekly travel themes by Where’s My Backpack. I am several weeks behind but I will catch up. 🙂

This challenge is about tradition.

In this photo taken in San Juan, Puerto Rico near El Morrow, I believe that it shows one of the most sacred & personal aspects of tradition. For most religions, and especially families, burial is very important and can hold many norms that are believed to ensure the soul’s restfulness, happiness, and respect. Additionally, this magnificent setting inspires awe to me – such beauty!

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