Caparra Ruins Showcase Puerto Rico's Oldest City
Juan Ponce de Leon came to Puerto Rico in 1508. He soon established the very first Puerto Rican settlement named 'Caparra'. Ponce de Leon effortlessly conquered the island due to the naïve friendliness and childlike innocence of the Taino that inhabited the island. They were forced to build and mine under the rule of Ponce de Leon, who was appointed Governor by the Spanish Crown in 1509. The Taino worked tirelessly to construct forts and did all the hard labor in the mines and many of them died from being overworked. The city of Caparra is therefore the oldest city in Puerto Rico, as it was from here that the colonization and capitalization of Puerto Rico started. Ponce de Leon would never have envisioned that the fort he would build on this newly conquered island would become an important historical site in Puerto Rico.
It was under the Spanish rule and that oversight of the first Puerto Rican Governor, Juan Ponce de Leon, that the fort that is now known as the Caparra Ruins was constructed. The fort, which was started in 1508, was used as both a military stronghold and as general accommodation. At one stage it was home to both the Catholic Church and to the new seats of Government. All that remains of this ancient fortification today are the few ruins that are now known as the Caparra Ruins. The pieces of rubble that were left behind from a time long forgotten are testament to the hardship that the Taino suffered and the high price of colonization under a leadership that the original inhabitants of this island could not begin to understand or fight against.
On the grounds of the Caparra Ruins stands the Museum of the Conquest and Colonization of Puerto Rico, or Museo de la Conquista y Colonizaciòn. The museum stands in memory of the colonization of Puerto Rico's and has many interesting artifacts that assists visitors in explaining the significance of the Caparra Ruins and the historical importance of this site. The exhibits in the museum include a vast range of documents and many items that were excavated from sites around the island and at the ruins. This historical site in Puerto Rico is owned and cared for by the government of Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican museum is open daily to visitors.