a mighty fortress

From our hotel room in Old San Juan we could see the beautifully kept grounds of this historic fort and rather than taking the trolley. . or using a map. .
we headed in  the general direction.

The Castillo de San Cristobal was built by the Spanish and was finished in 1783.
It covers 27 acres.

To get there. . .we walked up this hill. . .

..and down this street.

We had plenty of room to explore and let our minds imagine what it must have been like to reside in the fort during dangerous times in history.
From the top of the fort . .
you can see what is coming across the ocean.
Cruise ships come and go past the fort now. .
but I imagine that anything coming across back in the day was met with less of a welcome than we received.

San Juan was founded by Spanish settlers in 1521 and the construction of the first part of the fort began in 1539.
The English attacked in 1595 and again in 1598 and then the Dutch attacked in 1625.
Construction of the fort continued as evidence showed where they needed to defend.
The main part of the fort as we see it now was constructed between 1765 - 1783.

Ken and Mary are standing at ease beside one of the many sentry boxes.

It is hard to comprehend the battles that this fort has seen.
Today. .
it is just beautiful and impressive.

This fort was not made with 2 X 4 construction.
Clearly ..they had different building codes back in the day.

It had an impressive tunnel system that we explored.
Though I didn't take any pictures from beneath in the tunnels. .
I can tell you the acoustics are quite amazing.
I couldn't help it. .
every now and then I broke out in the doxology which was written in 1692.

My sister by love Mary. .joined me.
Singing in harmony. .

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise him all creatures here below.
Praise him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
 Thomas Ken 1692

I got goosebumps every time. .
knowing that surely some of the residents of the fort cried out to God. .
looking for protection as they saw approaching ships.

These lookouts were used during the second world war.

The fort had five underground cisterns. . .
which held 716,000 gallons of rainwater.

The real 200 pound mortar shells.

They had exhibits of military clothing and the bedroom which housed the men.

In 1949 the fort was established as most impressive structure in the new world and declared a World Heritage site in 1983.

All for now ..


  1. Your photos are all so beautiful Lovella. The blue of the cloudless skies against the buildings is great. How long were you on land and how long were you on the ship?

  2. I'm struck by the layers of color especially the one that made me gasp...the view of the waves, water, sky, clouds, grass...delightful. (There's a fort that I've visited built 100 years later on the Coast of Maine that reminds me of that one only the view is very different.)

  3. The sky, water and clouds would be enough to satiate a beauty seeker, then to have colorful buildings and old forts too; almost a visual overload. How ever did you take it all in?

    I marvel at how the island was even found, and how life was played out there, while in other parts of the world, other matters were being taken up. It seems so long ago, yet to read diaries written during that time, it is clear that people have always been much the same...and yes, the hymns that they sang still stir us today. Will our modern hymns do likewise in three or four hundred years? I hope so.

  4. Wow! Such beautiful photos...and a very interesting tour! You captured it so well .. the walk, the arches, the sounds, the lookouts and the waves... I could almost smell the dampness of the underground.

  5. So interesting! One of the few places that you have shared in your travels, that I have had the privilege of visiting. I just never thought to sing that beautiful song while I was there, but believe me, I would have loved listening to you two singing it. Thanks for sharing. Like you said, I am sure many there called out to God in the midst of the dangers they faced.

  6. Such fabulous photos, Lovella! The construction and engineering design of the fort is so interesting and its history is so fascinating! You showed and told it all so well.

    The views from it's top are spectacular! What a beautiful day you had to visit it.

  7. Thanks for the lovely travelogue and history lesson. We've never been to Porto Rico but It looks like a wonderful place to go. Gorgeous pictures! I can (almost) feel the warmth.

  8. I'm a regular follower but have never commented. (I found your blog via Just a Little Something for You.) Your pictures of Old San Juan took me back almost 40 years when I often visited that fort with friends. I lived on the island for 2 years, teaching there in Voluntary Service. My husband and I were in the same unit and dream of returning for a visit but now our travel funds go to visit sons and their families in missions in Cambodia and Ecuador! Thanks so much for the trip down memory lane.

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  10. Most interesting post, Lovella...and gorgeous pic's! That fort puts 'old' into perspective. Singing the doxology then and there seems most appropriate!

  11. Great photos...good lighting, blue skies and perfect family. I smiled at that one photo.. I zoomed in abit and tried to figure out what he was looking at...but that's OK. It made me smile.
    I need to see that part of the world sometime...maybe sooner than ever.

  12. An amazing pictoral! I love the sky .. and the photos of Ken and Mary at the fort and the one of you and Terry ....

  13. What great photos...took me back to 10 years ago when we were there at the end of our first cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary....took our second one this year for our 35th! Thanks for sharing!


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