La Fortaleza was built in the early 1500’s as the first fortification in San Juan Harbor. Built to defend against invaders, the fort was only successfully conquered twice, once by the British in 1533 and once by the Dutch. In 1625 the Dutch invaded and burnt the city including the fort. Today the fort is the residence and working offices of the Governor of Puerto Rico and is the oldest functioning Executive mansion in the western hemisphere. While the fort is still a functioning building, tours are offered where you can see examples of early Spanish architecture and old stone fortifications. You can also view the palace’s dungeons, chapel and the gardens. Located in the historic district of Old San Juan, La Fortaleza is a popular tourist destination.
Located on the Northwestern most point of old San Juan, the Castillo San Felipe del Moro was built on the orders of King Charles V of Spain. Construction began in 1539 and over the next 400 years additions were added to keep up with military technology. During World War I and World War II, the US Military occupied the fort and continued to until 1961. In 1983 the fort was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fort, known simply as El Morro, consists of six levels. Visitors can walk through the dungeons, barracks, passage ways and store rooms to get a glimpse of what life in the fort was like. Take a walk along the ramparts where cannons still face the ocean ready to ward off invaders. Park rangers are available to give an overview of the history and architecture. A taxi can take you to the fort or you can walk through the narrow streets to get there. The fort is open daily except on major holidays.
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