While looking at Girasoli's wonderful photographs of Hawaii I spotted a tree that looked like a flamboyán (aka Royal Poinciana), a common tree in the Puerto Rican landscape. I knew I had a picture of a flamboyán and while searching for the photo I was reminded that last month I had told Annie that I'd do a blog post on the old part of the Puerto Rican capital. So, here is a selection of images of Old San Juan, a city founded in 1521 and the second oldest city in the Americas.
Plaza de San José is one of the many squares in Old San Juan. It's located on the highest point of the old city and it is a favorite weekend meeting place. The statue in the center is of Ponce de León.
Convento de los Dominicos (Dominican Convent), built in 1523, has served as a convent, a shelter against Caribe Indian raids, and as the Caribbean headquarters of the U.S. Army. More recently it was the administrative center of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. I worked there in the late 1970's.
Escalinata Calle de las Monjas (Step street of the Nuns). Next to this street there was a convent ( now a hotel) and the Cathedral.
Escalinata Calle de las Monjas
Caleta de las Monjas - a pretty blue cobblestone street at the base of the Escalinata de las Monjas.
Calle del Sol
Calle Caleta de San Juan. This street leads to the "Puerta de San Juan", a huge wooden door in the wall that surrounds the city. The door is the only surviving one out of six doors that were closed at sundown to protect the city from invaders.
Square in front of a church dedicated to San Francisco. This is a very popular square with the local residents who meet here to converse and play dominoes. In the 1960's the mayoress of the city installed outdoor television sets in this square for the enjoyment of the local populace. The TVs are gone now and replaced by these concrete tables and chairs decorated with dominoes.
Calle de San Francisco leading to the Fort of San Cristóbal, one of the two forts in Old San Juan.
Street opposite the fort and leading to the pier. The pink building on the right is the Tapia Theatre, built in 1832.
The adoquines, blue cobblestone pavers, were made with European iron furnace slag that, according to historians, was part of the ballast of the sugar carrying ships. Subjected to time, weather and traffic, the pavers have developed a very characteristic shiny blue-gray hue. Most of the narrow streets in Old San Juan are paved with adoquines.