Did you know that San Juan, Puerto Rico is home to the oldest executive mansion/residency in the whole of the New World? It’s true. La Fortaleza is also known by the very appropriate name of The Fortress. It is a structure as visibly impressive as it historically significant. If you are planning to seek out things to do in Old San Juan, this Neoclassical architectural wonder should be right at the top of the list.
Visiting The Fortress couldn’t be simpler. It can be found approximately fifteen kilometers from one of our Sinsemilla dispensaries (in San Juan). Before you make it a point to check out the official residence of Puerto Rico’s governor for yourself, it might be interesting to first brush up on the long, proud history of one of the territory’s most fascinating important structures.
Facts About Puerto Rico’s Governor’s Mansion
The Fortress is in fact the very first example of a fortification to ever be constructed in the harbor of San Juan. Construction began in 1533, and was completed at some point in 1540. In its original form, The Fortress was a circular tower. In turn, this tower was protected by four of the most impressive walls to be found anywhere. El Palacio de Santa Catalina, as some refer to the building, was twice seized by invading forces. The first occasion occurred in 1598 at the hands of the Earl of Cumberland. The second incident came along nearly thirty years later from the Dutch. In this time periods, adjustments and additions were made to the structure, creating a building as it is largely known and appreciated in the present.
The Fortress had to wait a rather long time to obtain the stature it enjoys in the present. It was fully converted to a governor’s mansion in 1846. In that amount of time, Santa Catalina Palace has been home to around 170 of Puerto Rico’s governors. That fact alone gives this structure a staging element of history. No other executive building has endured for so long.
The presence of a second tower has served to give this structure an even greater aura of distinction. It has stood the test of time for centuries, while simultaneously playing host to some of the most important politicians, celebrities, dignitaries, and other individuals of note throughout the territory and beyond. Even if the building wasn’t being used to prove offices and a residency to the Governor of Puerto Rico, you still couldn’t help but be impressed by everything this structure has to offer.
If you want to visit The Fortress, you’re going to be very pleased with the information we can offer.
Visiting The Fortress In The Present
You most certainly can visit The Fortress in the present. However, there are several things you will naturally want to keep in mind.
Obviously, you will not be permitted to simply wander around the area as you please. After all, this is where the Governor of Puerto Rico lives and works. However, thirty-minute guided walking tours are offered between the hours of 8:15AM and 3:30PM. The walking tour will allow you to explore not only the mansion’s absolutely stunning gardens, but you should also be able to explore some of the inner workings of this vital government building. This is of course subject to changes or even shutdown by officials. Given that this is a fully-functional building for government use that we are talking about, it certainly makes sense that they would be a little on the strict side.
Nevertheless, if you want to treat yourself to a deep appreciation of all things concerning Puerto Rican history, The Fortress is going to be a visit well worth taking.