If you have never walked around inside the fortress El Morro in San Juan, Puerto Rico, definitely put this on your list of places to visit. It is absolutely beautiful here. It’s situated next to the ocean on the corner of the island. Every view, both inside and out, is breathtaking. . I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my visit today and I can’t wait to come back here again.

El Morro fortress in old San Juan

Being inside El Morro and walking around in San Juan has got me thinking about the rich history of Puerto Rico. I remember learning something about the island in school, but I didn’t learn nearly as much from my history books as I have by being here. I learned that Puerto Rico used to be called The Boriken, literally translated “the great land of the valiant and noble Lord” by the Taíno people. The Taíno were a tribe of natives that moved from South America to the island many years before the Spanish conquistadors arrived.

In 1492 King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain financed Christopher Columbus’ two major voyages to the New World. On this second voyage, he landed on the island and named it  “San Juan Bautista” (Saint John the Baptist). The Island had lots of potential and natural resources, which is why it was later named “Puerto Rico” (rich port). Who would have known that within a matter of a few years Puerto Rico would have three different names? Can you think of any place that’s been renamed three times?

When I was at El Morro, I kept hearing the name Ponce de León. I was curious who he was so I went to the library and looked him up. As it turns out, Ponce de León was a lieutenant to Christopher Columbus. He was very ambitious, and thanks to his efforts, the island soon became an important military outpost in the Caribbean, which is why they constructed the fortress, the beautiful El Morro.

Ponce de León Statue in old San Juan

When Christopher Columbus died in Valladolid, Spain, his son Diego wanted to be the Governor of Puerto Rico, but the Spanish monarchs named Ponce de León as Governor. Two years later, Diego was put in Ponce de León’s place as Governor. Ponce de León did not like that and asked for permission to continue his explorations, so he left the island soon after that. Guess where he landed . . . in Florida! He’s the same guy they say searched for the fountain of youth. History is soooo cool! I hope you can visit “La Isla del encanto” (The Island of Enchantment … yes, another name for Puerto Rico) soon!