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Castillo San Cristobal

October 4, 2019

  • 501 Calle Norzagary
  • San Juan, PR 00901
  • (787) 449-4049
  • Website

This post might look similar but it really is different than post about Castillo San Felipe del Morro.

Castillo San Cristobal is part of the San Juan National Historic Site along with El Morrow and the wall that surrounds the city.  If you pay to get in to one of the forts, you get in to the other as well.  We paid at El Morro then walked over to San Cristobal after lunch.

Castillo San Cristobal is about 200 years newer than El Morro.  The fort as we see it today started construction in 1766.  When it was finished not quite 20 years later, San Juan had a second fortification and the city was walled off.  You couldn’t get in to the city from land or by sea.

San Cristobal sits on the east side of the city on PR-25 at the intersection with Calle Norzagary.  The entrance to this fort is a little bit more modern with a parking lot for staff vehicles in front of a farily modern visitors center.  The visitors center is air conditioned and we really needed that.  They show a short movie on the history of the fortifications in San Juan alternating between Spanish and English every fifteen minutes.

There is an elevator that will take you up to a higher part of the fort if you choose but there’s also the original way, through a long tunnel.

A long, dark, narrow tunnel.

San Cristobal has several tunnels throughout the fort.  These were built so troops could easily move from place to place without being exposed to the warfare they were defending against.

The top of the tunnel comes out to the Main Plaza.  The plaza has several rooms which are now used as display areas for exhibits and as a gift shop.  The church is also in the plaza but unlike El Morro, this chapel is exposed to the elements.  It’s built in to the wall on one side of the plaza.

The plaza has a pretty amazing view of the Atlantic Coastline of San Juan.  The fort sits on a hill so you can see out over the city.

The other side of the fort looks back to the west and you can see El Morro in the distance.

Other windows give you a pretty good view of Viejo San Juan and the streets surrounding it.

The plaza at San Cristobal has more coverage than the plaza at El Morro.  Large stone columns and archways support the roof.  Many people were getting out of the sun on benches spread throughout this area.

From the plaza you have the choice to go up or down.  Up takes you to the main firing battery.  One again, it’s a steep, narrow tunnel to get up.

The main firing battery looks pretty similar to the one at El Morro.  The same kind of construction is used and it’s obvious where they used which type of cannons.  There’s a display of old cannon balls stacked near one end of the battery just to give you an idea of what they were using when this fort was being actively used.

Just like the plaza, the main firing battery gives you great views of the city.  Off to the east, you can see the Puerto Rican Capitol building.  We, unfortunately, were never able to make it there.

Back down the ramp to the plaza leads to another tunnel down.  This one also leads to the prison cell.  I didn’t realize at first I had even walked in to it until I turned around and saw J trying to shut the steel bar door on me.  Fortunately, they have it blocked so it can’t be closed.

We got a little confused trying to get out but eventually made our way.  We were pretty hot and tired by the time we walked through San Cristobal so we didn’t spend as much time there as we did El Morro…but San Cristobal isn’t as big.  It still has a lot of history and a lot of interesting features and since you’re paying for both, you might as well take the time to walk through both.

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