El Morro and San Cristobal

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501 Calle Norzagaray, San Juan, PR, USA

El Morro and San Cristobal San Juan Reviews

anupa_rk anupa_rk
40 reviews
Must see sights in the heart of Old San Juan Feb 17, 2013
El Morro and San Cristobal lie on two opposite corners of the city of Old San Juan, providing a unique opportunity to see the sun rise from one fort and set at the other.

Castillo de San Cristóbal marks the north eastern boundary of the city and provides for amazing views of the ocean and the waves crashing against the rocks.

The fort has an extensive underground tunnel system that is open to the public. Guided tours are available.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro, also known as El Morro, is located on the north western edge of the city and is the perfect spot to watch the sun go down from.

The castle is broken down into six levels, with the lower levels being the most ancient ones.

All levels are accessible to the public and detailed information about the functionality of each level is provided.

The walk from the Governer's house up to El Morro is a picturesque way to spend the evening in the city of Old San Juan.

Street vendors and onlookers gather along the cobblestoned streets to watch the sun set against the backdrop of the Bacardi factory.

The entrance fee for each site is $3. But if you choose to visit both sites on the same day you can purchase a discounted $5 ticket for entry to both.

Recommended: Spend at least a couple of hours in both sites. The views from the peep slits in the viewing towers in El Morro are just mesmerizing!
4 / 4 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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JohnBoricua JohnBori…
12 reviews
El Morro - 500 year of history Jun 04, 2012
I went to El Morro with some friends who were in Puerto Rico for the first time. They were in awe of the fort. as for me, every time I visit I am awestruck.

This historic site sits right on the entrance to San Juan bay & overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. To enter the fort you must walk across the huge field, which is usually cooled by the ocean breeze from the water. It is usually so windy that many locals visit the field just to fly kites. The fort is at the end of Viejo San Juan, with it's historic neighborhoods and narrow cobble stone streets.

The views from the fort are amazing. From the fort you can see 1) the Bacardi Factory (another must see for rum lovers) in the pueblo of Catano (just across the bay, 2) views of Viejo San Juan, 3) views of the beautiful ocean with it's waves crashing on the shore, 4) views of the sister fort across the field Castillo de San Crisotobal, & 5) views of the old cemetary.

The fort itself has narratives written in spanish & english so everyone can read the history of this majestic site. There are so many photo ops here. Everyone that I know that has visited El Morro take similar pix ... like in front of the sentry look outs, on top of the cannon balls or cannons, pretending to use the original latrine (the smell lets you know where you are before you read the narrative), along the walls with Viejo san Juan or the ocean in the background, etc. If you are a frequent visitor you can compare old & recent pix. for example, I have pix of my brother & on the cannon balls & cannon when we were kids and now we both have pix on the same props as adults.

The fort is huge w/ many levels. there are no elevators and the stairs are steep. Wear sneakers or comfortable rubber soled shoes. It's a lot of walking. If you go in the summer, it can get hot.

There are modern bathrooms with plumbing & everything (unlike the original latrine). There's a gift shop for the must have souvenir ... books, postcards, dust collectors, etc.

No visit to Puerto Rico is complete without a visit to this historic treasure. The fact that you must go through Viejo San Juan to get there is an added bonus. If you just have a few hours during a port of call cruise stop in San Juan bay, visit El Morro. You will not be disappointed.

Visited August 2011
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HuBison HuBison
417 reviews
Good site to visit Jun 10, 2010
For $3, you can visit El Morro Fort and for $5 you can visit both sites. It's a wonderful walk and is not meant for the elderly or really out of shape. There are 6 levels in El Morro and 5 were open when we went. The 70-something steps are steep and are without handrails, but the views, the history and the Fort itself are stupendous!

The walk up to the Fort is great and despite the litter covering the once famed battle field, there are families flying kites and kids running left and right. The oldest part of the Fort is over 400 years old and has been used in the the times of colonial war and WWII!

There are spiral staircases, narrow halls, and look-out points. You can walk the whole Fort in about an hour.

You can walk from the bus terminal if you have 20 minutes to spare, good sneakers and a street map. As you walk from El Morro to San Cristobal, there is a shanty sort of neighborhood along the shore. As long as you don't go wandering down the road that takes you into that area, you should be fine, but it does seem to distract from the historical presence of the Forts in front and behind you and the brightly colored buildings and galleries of sorts of the other side of the street.

We went on an overcast day and the wind was fantastic. Be careful if you go at full-sun; it can be dangerous to your health. Level 2 is enclosed and very hot!
There are nooks and crannies every…
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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sweetsummerdaiz sweetsum…
154 reviews
El Morro Lighthouse Aug 24, 2009
The El Morro Lighthouse in San Juan has been restored since my last visit in 2004 and it rests at the top of the fort overlooking the coastline. Simply beautiful views from this location.

El Morro was one of 2 fortresses that protected the city of Old San Juan since the 16th century from attack by sea. Today it is part of the National Park Service and has been added as a World Heritage Site.


Tours throughout the fort are less than $5. Visitors can approach the lighthouse but the tower is closed to the public.
Lighthouse in Old San Juan at El M…
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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geokid geokid
146 reviews
Affordable, Informative, Historic, Colonial, Fort Jan 29, 2009
Castillo de San Cristobal sits on a limestone cliff 150 feet above the sea. There are five separate units spread over more than 27 acres. All units are connect by moats and tunnels, however, each unit was self-sufficient in case a portion of the fortress should fall to the enemy. The first fortifications started here in 1625. The original construction was a small redoubt with adjoining earth works and ramparts. Substantial additions and renovation began in 1765 and were completed by 1783. This made San Cristobal the second largest Spanish fortress in North America. Escabron is the site name for the outer line of defenses. A British attack in 1797 was repulsed at the Escabron line. The first shot of the Spanish-American War were fired here from two Spanish batteries in 1898.

Gun enplacement facing south to defend against a land based attack.The batteries were named Princesa and Teresa. During World war I US forces upgraded the Princes Battery and installed one 4.7 inch Armstrong gun. The gun was scrapped in 1919. During World War II US forces commissioned Fort Brooke, installed teo fire control towers and a 155mm gun battery on the site of the historic Princes Battery. North of San Cristobal sits El Morro, a spanish colonial fort sits on a limestone promontory that guards the narrow entrance of San Juan Bay. Constructed started in 1540, originaly the fort was a single round tower. Evidence of this original round tower can be viewed inside the lower levels of the current castle structure. Construction continued on and off until 1787. This fort was defended on numerous occasions from attacks by both Dutch and English. Looking southeast across San Cristobal's outer defences, modern San Juan is idenified by the high-rise building in the distance.

The U.S. National Park Service controls these forts, which have been declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. The views from the heights of the fortification of the Caribbean, San Juan Bay and Old San Juan are spectacular. On your tour of San Cristobal you will find a labyrinth of dungeons, barracks, vaults, lookouts, and ramps. Parking may be available on one of the nearby streets if you arrive early in the morning. The nearest parking lot is under the Quincentennial Plaza at the Ballajá barracks on Calle Norzagaray. One hour free tours are conducted by the Park Service. Check in at the visitors center to check on the next available tour. Your entrance ticket will permit you to visit El Morro on the same day.
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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Wannaseethebigworld says:
I'm looking into going to PR and this review is helpful. Thank you!
Posted on: Dec 05, 2009
Koralifix says:
Interesting place, nice review!
Posted on: Mar 10, 2009
travelman727 says:
Great review, Mike! I'm looking forward to exploring Old San Juan next week :-D
Posted on: Jan 29, 2009
Andy99 Andy99
579 reviews
San Juan National Historic Site Jun 21, 2008
The San Juan National Historic Site includes the Spanish fortresses of San Felipe del Morro (El Morro) and San Cristóbal as well as the San Juan city walls. The park complex was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

El Morro was built begining in 1539 to protect the entrance to San Juan harbor. Construction of the fortifications continued for 250 years. During its history, El Morro was attacked numerous times by British and Dutch forces (initally by Sir Francis Drake) and was bombarded by the US Navy in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. Following American acquisiton of Puerto Rico, El Morro became a US coastal defense fort. The fort was deactivated in 1961 and became a national historical park.

Castillo de San Cristóbal was constructed between 1765 and 1783 to complement El Morro and further defend San Juan from attack. The thick city walls were built to connect the forts and surround the city and protect the harbor entrance. Along the forts and walls are the iconic domed sentry boxes called garitas.

The sites are very well preserved and interpreted. A visit is highly recommended and will introduce you to nearly 500 years of Puerto Rico's history.

(More photos of EL Morro in my San Juan blog.)
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo de San Cristóbal
San Juan National Historic Site
Castillo de San Cristóbal
3 / 3 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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sylviandavid says:
Congratulations on being featured! Sylvia
Posted on: Mar 18, 2010
sarahsan says:
Wow! Another feature! Well done! A big congrats to you!
Posted on: Mar 17, 2010
Koralifix says:
Congrats on today's feature! Good on you!
Posted on: Mar 17, 2010
antigonewanders antigone…
18 reviews
Dec 21, 2007
El Morro and San Cristóbal are two Spanish forts in Old San Juan. Kids would probably find them enjoyable because they are filled with "secret" passageways and tunnels (especially San Cristóbal). My favorite was El Morro because I was able to look down and see a magnificent view of the ocean waves crashing against the fort. I think that you get a special deal if you buy tickets for both forts at once.
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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missandrea81 says:
I bought a drawing of El Morro which is now hanging on my wall and makes me wanna go back! The view is really perfect!
Posted on: Jan 10, 2008
vances says:
We heard San Cristóbal was best for youngsters...but dang, we only made it to El Morro!
Posted on: Dec 21, 2007

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