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San Juan

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San Juan is the vibrant, cosmopolitan capital of the island of Puerto Rico. Encompassing hundreds of years of history, the city blends Spanish-era historic sites – such as the San Felipe del Morro fortress, with modern entertainment and fashionable shopping districts. More than a million people call San Juan home, while hundreds of thousands of tourists call it their favorite place to vacation each year. Its perfect year-round climate makes the city an ideal venue for international sporting events such as the World Baseball Classic and National Basketball Association Games, for which the city always puts on its best face.
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Do and see
San Juan’s perfect mix of old and new sets the stage for an unforgettable trip. The starting point should be Old San Juan, where walking is the norm, but free trolleys are available to take visitors from one site to the next. Nobody who visits the island should leave without seeing the forts, the churches and the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan.
San Felipe del Morro Fortress
Known as El Morro, the fortress was designed to protect the city from attacks by sea. In 1983, the United Nations declared the fort a World Heritage Site. Today, it is a museum and open for visitors to enjoy and explore.
La Fortaleza
This magnificent mansion is the home and office of the governor of Puerto Rico and the governor's family. It has been in continuous use since it was built in 1540. The structure is also known as the Palacio de Santa Catalina (Saint Catalina’s Palace) as it integrates a chapel in keeping with the highly Catholic culture.
Casa Blanca Museum
This mansion, built in 1521, was designed to protect governor Ponce de León, who, ironically, never lived there. The Spanish militia seized the house in 1779. Almost 100 years later, the U.S. military took it over and kept it until 1966, after which it was transformed into a museum.
Capilla del Cristo (Cristo Chapel)
This small chapel is the embodiment of a centuries-old urban legend. It is said that the cliff-side abbey was built after an unknown horse rider galloped up the Old San Juan street and fell off the edge.
San Juan Cathedral
This grand centuries-old Catholic church evolved from a wood structure to the medieval cathedral that is standing today. The church houses the marble tomb of Ponce de León.
Plaza de la Rogativa
This small square is home to one of the most emblematic sites in Old San Juan.
Museo de las Americas
The museum, which was built in 1992, hosts permanent exhibits exploring New World art and its African heritage.
Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico
The Puerto Rico Museum of Art with more than ten exhibit halls includes permanent collections and a compilation of Puerto Rican art from the 17th century to present.
Information
The Puerto Rico Tourism Company’s “Que Pasa!” free magazine is a great tool for tourists. The magazine is available in most hotel lobbies and at La Casita in Old San Juan. The publication includes tricks and tips for getting around San Juan, as well as the rest of the island.
Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport
San Juan is mainly served by the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, which is located about three miles (five kilometers) southeast of San Juan. Upon arriving, visitors are offered several ways of getting around – by taxi, rental car or transportation provided by hotels.
Time Zone
San Juan is in the Atlantic time zone, and all times are reflected in Atlantic time.
Post Office
Puerto Rico uses the U.S. Postal Service, which operates numerous branches throughout the San Juan area. Stamps are available at pharmacies and retailers in the tourist district. Post Office business hours are normally Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and – depending on the location – on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
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