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La Fortaleza

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La FortalezaLa Fortaleza or Palacio de Santa Catalina is the best Spanish fort of its kind to ever behold your eyes in San Juan, Puerto Rico. La Fortaleza was built between 1533 and 1540 to defend the harbor of San Juan. It is the oldest fort of the New World and a grand World Heritage Site. La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site was the first series of military structures built to protect the city which included the Fort San Felipe Del Morro and the Fort San Cristóbal. Originally, the fortress consists of four walls enclosing an interior patio with a circular tower known as the Homage Tower.

It is a huge structure where you can take a guided tour to learn about its rich history. Along the tour you will hear interesting stories and shown details about the fortress past. Its distinctive blue and white façade was completed in 1846, when it became the private residence of the governors of the island. At present, La Fortaleza consists of few attached buildings with formal living quarters on the second floor, while the third floor consists mainly of private quarters.

La Fortaleza overlooks the high city walls that face the bay, and within the north boundary you will see beautiful sheltered gardens and a cool swimming pool. However, during your tour one of the best things to see is the broken, old mahogany clock that stands in the corridor. Even though it doesn’t tell the time, the clock is a classic remainder of the fortress illustrious past. Just before the last Spanish governor left he struck the clock face with his sword, stopping time to note the very last moment of Spanish rule in Puerto Rico.

Bask in the beauty of this old fortress and image what life was like on the island during that era. Glide through the halls and view the golden banquet areas, the amazing galleries and rooms furnished in the elegance of colonial era. Enjoy more of the San Juan historical district and visit the old churches, extraordinary homes, monuments, along the city boardwalk where the fort lies.

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