San Juan’s Unusual Pharmaceutical Museum

The La Casa de los Contrafuertes, also known as the “House of Buttresses”, is a Pharmacy Museum that originally dates back to the eighteenth century. The museum is housed in a traditional Spanish-style building called the Calle de San Sebastian that was built and influenced by the particular Spanish style of the day. In Puerto Rico the La Casa de los Contrafuertes is viewed as one of the oldest private colonial homes that you can find there.

Old San Juan is located at the entrance of the San Juan Bay and is a world heritage site because of all the historical buildings and sites that can be found there. This means that if you own a property there you can only renovate it to what it looked like before; you can’t tear it down and build something else.

When you enter the first floor of the museum you will enter into a traditional apothecary shop that has been reconstructed to look similar to the authentic kind that you would have found in 18th century San Juan. There is a lot of attention to detail as can be seen with all the bottles and scales on display that would have been used to house all the necessary medication of that time.

The Casa de los Contrafuertes y Museo de la Farmacias is primarily a pharmaceutical museum but it also houses a small graphic arts museum that focuses on Latin American prints and some art from the island’s African Heritage. You will also see African artifacts, like masks, musical instruments, maps and paintings. Most of the Latin American prints painted by local artists can be viewed when you come for a visit but it is also suggested that you contact the curator of the museum to find out when and what kind of exhibitions are currently being shown there.

While visiting San Juan take the opportunity to visit this unusual museum -especially if you are interested in history. The museum is open from Monday to Friday opening at 9:30am to 5:00pm, but on Saturdays from 10:00am to 5:00pm. You will not be charged any admission fee when you visit.

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