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J U A N PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF THE PUERTO RICO TOURISM COMPANY

S A N

THE WALLED CITY by Gerald Zarr

If the explorers had had their way, you would be visiting the city of Puerto Rico on the island of San Juan, rather than San Juan on the island of Puerto Rico. San Juan’s high, protective wall still surrounds much of the city.

Columbus landed on the beautiful island in 1493 and named it San Juan Bautista

switched the names in the 16th century,

hub for the export of New World riches

and it's stayed that way ever since.

and a magnet for the British, Dutch and

(Saint John the Baptist). In 1511, Ponce de León named the town Puerto Rico. An unknown mapmaker seems to have

French privateers or pirates who sought

BEGINNINGS As the second-oldest city in the Americas, San Juan is known as La

A passageway inside the fort

fame and fortune. And their motherlands lusted for the most lucrative piece of real estate in the Western Hemisphere.

Ciudad Amurallada (“the walled city”),

With all this attention, it’s surprising

because of its massive encircling stone

how infrequently the city was overrun.

wall anchored by two mighty forts,

The British managed to seize and burn

El Morro and San Cristóbal; the wall was

San Juan in 1598, but dysentery did them

started in 1539 and not finished until 1782.

in. On their heels, the Dutch attacked

Up until 1897, the city was accessible

in 1625 but were overcome by disease

only through five enormous, heavily

as well and had to retreat.

guarded wooden doors that closed at nightfall.

18TH-CENTURY IRISH INTERLUDE

SPAIN’S NEIGHBORS COME CALLING

the 18th century, Puerto Ricans became

As Spain’s prominence declined in resentful of getting so little return on their

The wall was not merely for show.

labor for the Spanish. Islanders were not

San Juan Bay soon became the central

allowed to participate in government, and

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Carnival FUN ASHORE  

Fun Ashore -- POC (ports of call) book, which includes Carnival Cruise Lines marketing, regional articles and port information.

Carnival FUN ASHORE  

Fun Ashore -- POC (ports of call) book, which includes Carnival Cruise Lines marketing, regional articles and port information.