San Cristobal

San Juan Travel Blog

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Period cannon on the parade fied.

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 the 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, originally 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 Ballaj√° 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.

 

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Period cannon on the parade fied.
Period cannon on the parade fied.
Gun enplacement facing south to de…
Gun enplacement facing south to d…
Looking southeast across San Crist…
Looking southeast across San Cris…
Lower small arms gun turret.
Lower small arms gun turret.
Upper gun gallery with domed powde…
Upper gun gallery with domed powd…
Period graffiti of sialing vessels.
Period graffiti of sialing vessels.
riod graffiti of sailing vessels.
riod graffiti of sailing vessels.
Lower small arms gun turret.
Lower small arms gun turret.
Looking southeast across San Crist…
Looking southeast across San Cris…
Barracks
Barracks
Inclined domed passage-way from th…
Inclined domed passage-way from t…
Lower level gun enplacement
Lower level gun enplacement
Looking southwest across San crist…
Looking southwest across San cris…
Renovation under-way on portions o…
Renovation under-way on portions …
Looking southwest at the cruise sh…
Looking southwest at the cruise s…
Looking southwest at the cruise sh…
Looking southwest at the cruise s…
Looking southwest at the cruise sh…
Looking southwest at the cruise s…
Looking southeast across San Crist…
Looking southeast across San Cris…
Looking south at the cruise ship t…
Looking south at the cruise ship …
Looking southeast across San Crist…
Looking southeast across San Cris…
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photo by: sethwd2