Theme Week Puerto Rico

Monday, 23 October 2023 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Theme Weeks, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  7 minutes

Old San Juan with the Luquillo Mountain Range in the background © U.S. National Park Service

Old San Juan with the Luquillo Mountain Range in the background © U.S. National Park Service

Puerto Rico (Spanish for rich port), is a Caribbean island and unincorporated territory of the United States with official Commonwealth status. It is located in the northeast Caribbean Sea, approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of Miami, Florida, between the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and includes the eponymous main island and several smaller islands, such as Mona, Culebra, and Vieques. It has roughly 3.2 million residents, and its capital and most populous city is San Juan. Spanish and English are the official languages of the executive branch of government, though Spanish predominates.

Puerto Rico was settled by a succession of peoples beginning 2,000 to 4,000 years ago; these included the Ortoiroid, Saladoid, and Taíno. It was then colonized by Spain following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1493. Puerto Rico was contested by other European powers, but remained a Spanish possession for the next four centuries. An influx of African slaves and settlers primarily from the Canary Islands and Andalusia vastly changed the cultural and demographic landscape of the island. Within the Spanish Empire, Puerto Rico played a secondary but strategic role compared to wealthier colonies like Peru and New Spain. By the late 19th century, a distinct Puerto Rican identity began to emerge, centered around a fusion of indigenous, African, and European elements. In 1898, following the Spanish–American War, Puerto Rico was acquired by the United States. Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since 1917, and can move freely between the island and the mainland.

Mayagüez Plaza © Joseacaraballo/cc-by-sa-4.0 Mountainside © F. Bucher/cc-by-sa-3.0 Old San Juan with the Luquillo Mountain Range in the background © U.S. National Park Service Ponce © Jose Oquendo/cc-by-sa-3.0 Punta Salinas Beach in Toa Baja © flickr.com - Ishamari Drennan-Colón Bayamón © Yarfpr/cc-by-sa-4.0 Carolina © Coolcaesar/cc-by-sa-3.0 Coast scene in Patillas © flickr.com - Oquendo/cc-by-2.0
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Old San Juan with the Luquillo Mountain Range in the background © U.S. National Park Service
The architecture of Puerto Rico demonstrates a broad variety of traditions, styles and national influences accumulated over four centuries of Spanish rule, and a century of American rule. Spanish colonial architecture, Ibero-Islamic, art deco, post-modern, and many other architectural forms are visible throughout the island. From town to town, there are also many regional distinctions.

Old San Juan is one of the two barrios, in addition to Santurce, that made up the municipality of San Juan from 1864 to 1951, at which time the former independent municipality of Río Piedras was annexed. With its abundance of shops, historic places, museums, open air cafés, restaurants, gracious homes, tree-shaded plazas, and its old beauty and architectonical peculiarity, Old San Juan is a main spot for local and internal tourism. The district is also characterized by numerous public plazas and churches including San José Church and the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, which contains the tomb of the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León. It also houses the oldest Catholic school for elementary education in Puerto Rico, the Colegio de Párvulos, built in 1865.

The oldest parts of the district of Old San Juan remain partly enclosed by massive walls. Several defensive structures and notable forts, such as the emblematic Fort San Felipe del Morro, Fort San Cristóbal, and El Palacio de Santa Catalina, also known as La Fortaleza, acted as the primary defenses of the settlement which was subjected to numerous attacks. La Fortaleza continues to serve also as the executive mansion for the governor of Puerto Rico. Many of the historic fortifications are part of San Juan National Historic Site.

During the 1940s, sections of Old San Juan fell into disrepair, and many renovation plans were suggested. There was even a strong push to develop Old San Juan as a “small Manhattan“. Strict remodeling codes were implemented to prevent new constructions from affecting the common colonial Spanish architectural themes of the old city. When a project proposal suggested that the old Carmelite Convent in San Juan be demolished to erect a new hotel, the Institute had the building declared as a historic building, and then asked that it be converted to a hotel in a renewed facility. This was what became the Hotel El Convento in Old San Juan. The paradigm to reconstruct and renovate the old city and revitalize it has been followed by other cities in the Americas, particularly Havana, Lima and Cartagena de Indias.

Ponce Creole is a unique architectural style created in Ponce, Puerto Rico, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This style of Puerto Rican buildings is found predominantly in residential homes in Ponce that developed between 1895 and 1920. Ponce Creole architecture borrows heavily from the traditions of France, Spain and the Caribbean vernacular to create houses that were especially built to withstand the hot and dry climate of the region, and to take advantage of the sun and sea breezes characteristic of the southern Puerto Rico’s Caribbean Sea coast. It is a blend of wood and masonry, incorporating architectural elements of other styles, from Classical revival and Spanish Revival to Victorian.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on DiscoverPuertoRico.com, – Puerto Rico: Discover a Caribbean Paradise in the U.S., History of Puerto Rico, Culture of Puerto Rico, Tourism in Puerto Rico, Puerto Rican cuisine, La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico, Wikitravel Puerto Rico, Wikivoyage Puerto Rico and Wikipedia Puerto Rico. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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