Wednesday, January 30, 2013

FTV 1/30/2013 The Old Forts of Puerto Rico

For my last day of liberty in Puerto Rico, I really wanted to spend some time exploring. My friends and I got on one of the open trolleys and made our way to the San Juan National Historic Site. This site revolves around the massive fortification system. It was referred to as the "Defense in Depth" system and fortifies the San Juan Islet with three lines of defense.

We visited one of the major fortifications near the third line of defense. Castillo San Cristobal took 150 years to build and was intended to protect El Morro (the larger of the two major forts) and the city from attacks via land. There are three levels in the fort: first is the Main Plaza on the lowest level; the second level held the Main Firing Battery; the third level (highest level) is the Observation Area. We entered the Main Plaza through a tunnel and were able to admire the architecture and historic artifacts that reside in the fort. A steep ramp guided us up to the Observation Area where the view was breathtaking. We were able to see all of San Juan, and even had the perfect site of the T.S. Kennedy at the port.

Castillo San Cristobal

The fort was half surrounded by ocean, half by dry moats and San Juan. You could see everything from that Observation Area. In 1493, Columbus sets his sights on Puerto Rico during his second voyage. In 1508, Juan Ponce de Leon began the Spanish Colony. The fortification systems were designed to help control the lands around the Caribbean, under Ponce de Leon. Reading into the history a little more, Puerto Rico and its fortification system was such a great way to control the Caribbean due to the fact that it is the barrier of trade from Mexico, Central, and South America.
The fort that I visited (Castillo San Cristobal) was under construction in 1634 due to attacks from the English and the Dutch. In 1898, Puerto Rico became U.S. Territory. It was a great morning at the forts and by the afternoon, we were ready to head back to the beach! Isla Verde welcomed us with a beautiful rainbow from the shower earlier in the day. We stopped at the local grille for some delicious seafood Empanadas and eventually made our way back to the ship.
 El Morro
Everyone had to be back on the ship at 2300 in order to be accounted for in the computer system and ready for the manual sailing muster at 0000 (midnight). It wasn't long, but it was necessary to ensure that all of the cadets and crew were present and accounted for to leave the port. Tomorrow, we will be heading to Jamaica!

You can take a virtual tour of the two forts Alicia visited.
Here are some fun activities to try.

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