Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Gibraltar of the Caribbean

One of the highlights of our trip to Puerto Rico was a visit to the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, or "El Morro".  It is a huge fort that was built over a 400-year time span to defend the port of San Juan from invaders from the sea.  The park ranger told us about the different attacks on the fort over the years and the reasons why the Spaniards kept adding onto the fort until it ended in its current form, with six different levels.

The entrance to the fort is a long walk from the road.  There were families and camp groups sitting, playing, and flying kites on the grassy hills.  The breeze from the ocean made the area great for kites and helped cool us off when we were inside. It was a HOT morning and walking past a window offered a welcome relief from the stone pathways!
San Juan became a possession of the United States in 1898 after the Spanish-American War.  We learned that by that time El Morro wasn't strong enough to withstand the "modern" guns and artillery.  After taking it over, the United States helped rebuild the sentry towers and added a lighthouse - the first one in Puerto Rico.
We noticed that there are three flags flying at El Morro - the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Flag of Burgundy, a Spanish military flag.

Inside, we walked up and down the steps and ramps to see the soldiers quarters, the area that was the kitchen, the chapel, tunnels, and the indentations in the walls for the cannons.

Up to 6,000 soldiers lived in El Morro at one time.  The parts of the fort that were open to the public didn't seem big enough to house that many people.  Our guess is that there are many tunnels and chambers inside that we couldn't see.

It was interesting to see how they created tracks for the cannons on some of the levels.  Apparently, there were not enough cannons so the soldiers moved them around on the different levels to shoot in the direction they wanted.
The views were spectacular in every direction.

The cemetery outside El Morro is the final resting place for many of San Juan's most prominent citizens.  

This iguana didn't mind the heat as much as we did!  The resident iguanas prefer the heat and come out when the sun is at its peak.  I bet he also enjoyed the view.

1 comment:

nana said...

Amazing shots of the Fort and Family. I love the cementery shot alot! Always interesting to visit those places in different locations.