Nestled in the Northwestern point of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico lies Castillo San Felipe del Morro which is also known as Morro Castle; built in the 1600’s. I was awestruck by its grandeur and the eloquence of this formerly used military base that is now a United Nations World Heritage Site and a San Juan National Site.
As I entered into Old San Juan, some walls were parallel to the narrow road that eventually led to Morro Castle. On the other side of the walls, there were a few Oceanside homes and the subtle waves of the Atlantic Ocean that crashed on the rocky shore.
I stood there for a while listening to the soothing melody of the waves. The sea breeze felt fantastic, and it was much needed since the weather was approximately 88 degrees. The walls, built in the 1500’s, to protect the City of San Juan from being attacked through the entrance of the sea.
My tour officially began when I arrived on the grounds of Castillo San Felipe Del Morro, and it was a beauty. There was an endless lush green landscape that was hilly on both sides of the pathway. The grounds, used as a recreational area, was a place where families and friends held picnics and flew large kites with cute designs on them. It was fun to watch!
The backdrop of Castillo San Felipe del Morro, was the clear blue skies, the aqua blue ocean and a yellow and white church with a small graveyard in the back.
When I arrived at the fortification, a Park Ranger politely greeted me and gave me a map of the fort. Although the fort appears to be small from the outside, it is enormous on the inside with approximately six floors. The highest point was the lighthouse that was originally built in 1843 and restored in 1908. There you can see fabulous views of the once guarded San Juan Bay and of the City of San Juan.
The main floor consisted of training rooms and offices for the chiefs in command. There was also a gift shop and a viewing room that aired a short film about the history of Castillo San Felipe del Morro. The exterior of the main floor had golden yellow walls. That is the only floor that had yellow paint because the rest of the fort resembled the brown and black materials or mortar that were used to build it. There were cannons strategically located on the grounds.
As I continued down the steep open-air staircase, there was a jail, soldier’s sleeping quarters, a cooking area, and many secret tunnels and stairways that allowed soldiers to maneuver throughout the fort without being seen by the enemy on the outside. There were also a lot of training rooms as well.
What distinguishes Castillo San Felipe del Morro from other forts is that it was used to fight several different wars. The first was in 1595 when Sir Francis Drake an Englishman attacked San Juan. The last battle was in 1898, which was the Spanish American War. Since then it has been preserved, maintained and it is a popular tourist attraction.
Here are a few tips for those of you who will like to visit Castillo San Felipe del Morro. I would recommend that you wear comfortable walking shoes, your health should be in good condition because of the extensive walking up and down the steep stairs, drink a lot of water and wear sunblock!
Overall, I had a fabulous time exploring this fortification. On my way out, I took one last look at the pathway that led to Castillo San Felipe del Morro, the grandeur of the fort and the lush green hilly grounds almost made me feel like a princess leaving her castle, Morro Castle.
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