Visiting Puerto Rico’s UNESCO Site: La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page for more details.

Last Updated on: 15th September 2021, 11:01 pm


The Atlantic ocean curls around the shore of Old San Juan, waves slapping the beach.  Kites fill the sky, while children scoot and run around.  The sunset fades to purple.  That’s how I experienced EL Morro and La Fortaleza in Puerto Rico.  It was magical.

My Favorite Travel Booking Sites for 2024

These are my favorite companies that I use on my own travels.

Protect Your Trip via Safety Wing

Find the best city tours, day tours, bus tours, & skip-the-line tickets on GetYourGuide and Viator.

Find the best deals on hotels & vacation rentals on

For English-speaking private airport transfers, book through Welcome Pickups.

For road trips and independent travel, rent a car through Discover Cars.

Find information and cruise reviews on Cruise Critic.

For packing and travel essentials order via Amazon.

Book an affordable family or romantic photography session on your trip through Flytographer (Use the code HISTORYFANGIRL for 10% off your first photoshoot).

For travel guidebooks to have with you during your trip, I always pick one or two from Rick Steves and Lonely Planet.


From UNESCO’s description:

The main elements of the massive fortification of San Juan are La Fortaleza, the three forts of San Felipe del Morro, San Cristóbal and San Juan de la Cruz (El Cañuelo), and a large portion of the City Wall, built between the 16th and 19th centuries to protect the city and the Bay of San Juan. They are characteristic examples of the historic methods of construction used in military architecture over this period, which adapted European designs and techniques to the special conditions of the Caribbean port cities.

I didn’t tour the forts, or do any educational research before I got there.  Instead, I walked around and took it all in.  It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.  When I think back now, I can feel the cool breeze and smell the sea air.  I felt like a little girl at sunset in front of Cair Paravel.  If only Aslan had shown up.

See also
The 17 National Parks in Washington State: How & Why to See Each One!

I spent the afternoon before and the evening after walking around Old San Juan.  The colonial buildings are colorful and bright.  I passed through empty squares with beautiful refreshing fountains.  I was there with a friend, and the hours all kind of melted together in one long, hazy conversation straight out of a Richard Linklater film.  But with purple sunsets!


After dark, we grabbed a dinner of mojitos and empanadas in a tiny restaurant stuffed in the back of an art gallery.  I don’t remember the restaurant’s name or street address, but the food was similar to these delicious cheap eats. The British waitress tried to give me back her tip, but I insisted.  Puerto Rico is technically America after all.  This fact made it so easy to picture picking up and moving there forever.  A place that is both home and the dream tropical island you’ve always been waiting to run away to.

Visiting Puerto Rico's UNESCO Site: La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site

Leave a Comment