Plaza del Quinto Centenario, JCD
Old San Juan Walking Tour > Attractions/Sights > Puerto Rico
You start at La Casita, the main Information Center for the Puerto Rico Tourism Company in Old San Juan. The center is located just west of Pier 1, right on the waterfront. If you are looking for the most current information on any part of Puerto Rico, including Old San Juan, this is the place. As you walk along, remember to check the map and the directory for more sites and information.
That said, from La Casita, walk along the waterfront (east) with the cruise ship docks on your right. Walk past the Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel and take a left. Walk up the street 2 blocks and through the Plaza de Colón (the water is at your back). Across the street from, and north of, the plaza is the Castillo de San Cristóbal. This fort is one of the two major fortifications of Puerto Rico (the other being El Morro). A tour of Castillo San Cristóbal is highly recommended (you receive an excellent map with your admission). There are a number of levels and tunnels to explore and this is great fun
for the kids.
Continue your walk on Norzagaray Street, on the north edge of the fort, to El Morro (which you can see in the distance). You will find Plaza del Quinto Centenario (the two-tiered plaza with the giant obelisk) on your left before you reach El Morro. To your right, outside the City Wall, is the Cementerio de Santa María Magdalena (look for the red dome). The entrance to Castillo San Felipe del Morro (El Morro) is just ahead. As you enter El Morro itself, take a good look at the fortifications. This is a very complex and elaborate design. You can tour El Morro with one of the excellent guides or use the map you received with your admission for a self-guided tour. Either way, you will get lots of information on the history and architecture of El Morro.
When you depart El Morro, you are heading to La Casita (which, by the way, is downhill). Walk down the street with Plaza de Beneficencia on your left. At the southwest corner of the plaza is the entrance to Casa Blanca, the original home of the Ponce de León family. The entrance to Casa Blanca faces San Sebastián St. Walk down San Sebastián to Cristo St.; the Plaza San José (with the statue of Ponce de León) is on your left. Turn right on to Cristo St. and walk to the beautiful, small, tree-lined Plaza de la Catedral. In front of this plaza is the historic Catedral de San Juan (construction started in 1540).
If you are running out of time, take the street on the south side of the plaza (the Catedral is on the east) and walk downhill past La Fortaleza and through the Puerta de San Juan. Turn left and follow Paseo de La Princesa, past the Raíces fountain and the La Princesa building (the executive office of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company). Go to the end of the Paseo, and walk to the water on your right. La Casita will be in front of you.
THE FULL TOUR
From the Plaza de la Catedral, continue down Cristo Street one more block to San Francisco Street and take a left. A block down San Francisco is the Plaza de Armas. This is the original main city square as evidenced by the Casa del Ayuntamiento (City Hall). Retrace your steps to Cristo Street, and turn left. You will find yourself in one of the major shopping areas of Old San Juan. When you reach the part where the street is blocked off, turn right and walk to La Fortaleza (the executive mansion for the Governor of Puerto Rico). Tours are available in both English and Spanish. Go back to Cristo Street and turn right. At the very end of the street is the Capilla del Cristo and (on your right) the Parque de las Palomas. Go left around the Capilla del Cristo and you are now on Tetuán St. Continue down Tetuán until you reach San Justo Street (your 3rd right). Turn right on San Justo and walk to the water. La Casita is on your left.