Architecture and Puerto Rico’s Cultural Building Blocks

When you examine the architecture in Puerto Rico, it's clear to see the strong Spanish influence of its history coming through. The narrow, winding, cobblestone roads are reminiscent of Andalusia, South of Spain. San Juan is said to be home to over 400 historic sites ranging from examples of classic architecture and old military power.

Puerto Rico houses some of the most interesting 16th and 19th century architecture in the Caribbean and indeed, in the United States. Here you can find Spanish colonial, neo-classical, medieval-style and baroque architecture in close proximity to one another. There is even an example of true Gothic architecture in the San José Church which was built in the 16th century.

A sight worth seeing is the El Morro Fortress, which has kept an eye on the bay of San Juan since the 16th century and which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although more modern the Museum of Puerto Rican Music, restored in 1990, is a beautiful building that pays living tribute to some of Puerto Rico’s finest musicians.

Another fine piece of modern architecture is the Plaza del Mercado – an old marketplace that has been restored and made into an artisans’ market. Its appeal is undeniable as you watch the constant stream of tourists and locals visiting this beautiful site.

Over the years there have been some major renovations in Old San Juan and Ponce – two of the older and more established parts of Puerto Rico. The government has put a lot of money into restoring their architectural heritage, so visiting these old buildings is well worth the effort.

Last updated: November 1, 2018

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