Enjoy the Vibe in Rio Piedras

The sprawling city of San Juan is the capital city of Puerto Rico. Rio Piedras, which was founded in 1714, is the largest district of San Juan. The main campus of the University of Puerto Rico was established in the district of Rio Piedras in 1903, earning the district the name of “University City”. Rio Piedras had been a municipality before it was incorporated into San Juan in 1951.

The University of Puerto Rico, which is the oldest and largest in Puerto Rico, formed the centre around which the development of Rio Piedras took place. With the growth of the district, the university currently covers a relatively small portion of the territory, but with its distinctive clock tower rising above its surroundings, is still considered to be the main landmark, for the university and also Rio Piedras. The university is also a tourist attraction, mainly due to its distinctive architecture and historical value.

The Botanical Garden of the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras consists of 300 acres of indigenous and exotic flora. It serves as a research centre for the conservation and study of trees, flowers, shrubs and numerous other plants. Emphasis is put on conservation of endangered species such as the Cóbana Negra, also known as Cóbana Polisandro (Stahlia monosperma).

As part of the Botanical Garden, there are 75 acres of exquisitely landscaped gardens, with a wide variety of rare plants, which is open to the public. Of special interest is the project “Bosque Urbano del Nuevo Milenio” (Urban Forest of the New Millennium) which is found on the eastern side of the Botanical Garden. This is a study of trees and plants that grow within a populated area and the effect these have on the environment. When humans move into an area, very often they clear all the vegetation to make way for building. However, research reveals that urban forests play an essential role in the ecology of human habitats by, among many other things, filtering air and moderating the local climate, as well as providing wind shelter and preventing erosion of the soil. People need to be made aware of the benefits of keeping the urban areas green.

Rio Piedras also offers a one kilometer long “car free” shopping area selling a wide variety of goods at bargain prices. The Ponce de León Avenue has a number of small theatres, coffee shops and bookstores which are very popular with the students and intellectuals in the area.

When visiting San Juan in Puerto Rico, be sure to explore the sights of Rio Piedras – the “University City” – it will be time well spent.