Tricentennial Park in Ponce
Ponce is a city brimming with cultural and historical attractions, many of which are found in the Ponce Historic Zone. Located in the Barrio Tercero, Tricentennial Park (Parque del Tricentenario) stands at the entrance of this Historic Zone. The large urban park was established in 1992 to celebrate the 300th anniversary Ponce’s founding. Tricentennial Park encompasses the main entrance of the Ponce Historic Zone, The Bridge of the Lions (El Puente de los Leones), The Illustrious Ponce Citizens Plaza (Parque de los Ponceños Ilustres), The Francisco Porrata Doria Architecture Plaza (Plaza de la Arquitectura Francisco Porrata Doria), and The Latin American Statesmen Plaza (Plaza de los Próceres Latinoamericanos).
The Bridge of the Lions leads visitors into the park, across the Rio Portugues. Two sculpted brass lions guard the doorway bridge. These fantastic artworks were created by Victor Ochoa. The younger, spirited lion is said to symbolize hope and a rebirth of the city’s heritage, looking toward a resplendent future. The older lion is meant to represent wisdom, looking back to those who contributed to the city’s history, making it what it is today.
The Illustrious Ponce Citizens Plaza is the Tricentennial Park’s main square. It is dedicated to the city’s renowned citizens. The middle of the plaza is marked by a large fountain. Behind the fountain are 24 fountainettes, some of which are dedicated to citizens in the following fields: history, politics, education, architecture, journalism, dance and theater, literature, craftsmanship, music, medicine, sports, law, plastic arts, civism, and commerce and business. These bear plaques with the names of about 300 individuals. On either side of this display are two busts, created by the great sculptor Tomás Batista Encarnación, of Rafael Hernández Colón and Luis Ferré Aguayo.
The Francisco Porrata Doria Architecture Plaza is found adjacent to the main square, and was created in honor of Francisco Porrata Doria and the city’s architecture. The square features an impressive circular gallery. At the center of the gallery is a scale model of historical Ponce. Another bust created by Tomás Batista Encarnación stands in this square, depicting Rafael Sánchez Vilella.
The Latin American Statesmen Plaza contains a number of busts formed by the hands of María Elena Perales. Honoring the heroes of Latin America, the busts represent Luis Muñoz Marín, Simón Bolívar, José Martí and Juan Pablo Duarte.