Caguana Ceremonial Park and Museum
One of the most magical and treasured attractions in Puerto Rico is the Caguana Ceremonial Park and Museum. Located just outside of San Juan, this spirited site will carry you away to an almost lost world that was - and still is - sacred to many inhabitants of Puerto Rico. The Caguana Ceremonial Park and Museum is located in Utuado. The region was named by the Taìno Indians and means “between the mountains” - appropriate since it is safely nestled in the central mountain range of Puerto Rico. This quiet site was the heart of the Taìno Indians’ spirituality and relaxation. Here, for more than 800 years, the tribes would meet to worship together and to play ‘Batu’.
As you enter one of the most popular attractions in Puerto Rico, you may feel yourself surprised at experiencing feelings of guilt. It is almost as if you are trespassing in this ancient and mysterious place. The breeze that gently caresses your cheek urges you to show respect and pay tribute to a tribe that viewed this land as sacred. The park has many ancient petroglyphs and monoliths on display, all of which are beautifully carved by the ghosts of the past. The artifacts and discoveries that were made here are probably the most important in the history of Puerto Rico. They symbolize the history and legacy that formed the foundation of the island. La Mujer de Caguana is the most significant and rarest petroglyph in the park. The woman depicted on the petroglyph has a large headdress on her head and her legs look like that of a frog. She is the figure of fertility to the Taìno Indians and is a favorite amongst the visitors to the park.
There are a few Batey courts that have been uncovered and restored by archeologists. This is where the very physical sport of Batu was played by the tribes. Some say that Batu was the first form of soccer that was enjoyed on the island. The game was played by two teams on an almost triangular court and the objective of the game was to keep a bundle of leaves in play. Players were permitted to use only certain parts of their bodies, such as their knees, elbows, shoulders and head.
The museum that is located in the Caguana Ceremonial Park has a wonderful exhibit of archeological finds and artifacts such as plates and other smaller items. The crops that were planted and harvested by the tribes can still be seen in the botanical garden. The rivers that feed this land have kept the corn, yautìa, sweet potatoes and cassava alive. Giant ceiba and mahogany trees tower above your head; these ancient marvels are no longer being used for building materials.
A visit to this truly mystical and thought provoking location will leave you with lasting memories. You may also feel just a little sad too when you walk away from this idyllic park.