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As a popular travel destination, Puerto Rico has it all and then a lot more – from stunning beaches lined with palm trees, some with warm waters and golden sand, while others boast enormous waves and rocky grounds. Hosting the only tropical rainforest in the U.S.' National Forest System, Puerto Rico is truly a charm to nature lovers. And now add to the enchanting historic El Morro in San Juan – there is a lot to explore in this fine state. The word “El Morro” means “promontory” in Spanish, and is the most famous historical tourist destination in Puerto Rico. With a history dating back to the 19th century, when Puerto Rico was governed under Spanish rule, the El Morro is a World Heritage Site – and now one of Puerto Rico’s most iconic buildings. El Morro, Puerto Rico's most famous historic site, is known for this.

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The History Of El Morro

El Morro is the most spectacular military building in Puerto – and is a portion of the San Juan National Historic Site. Its construction began in 1539 during the Spanish rule and took over 200 years to be finalized. Over these years, this structure has defended against every naval attack successfully, including in 1595 when the Sir Francis Drake of England tried to break its walls. The intimidating fortress only broke down once in 1598, when the Cumberland's Earl, George Clifford of England conquered the fortress by land. The United States made the fortress useful again to keep up with the German submarines' movements in the Caribbean in the 20th century during the 2nd World War.

Accessing Puerto Rico’s Most Famous Historic Site

There is a walkway that leads to the El Morro and is accessible through a grade that takes travelers to the fortress. There is, however, no parking space at the entrance. The theater and the historic bookstore in the house are on the fifth floor – and are accessible from the main plaza. Travelers can always use a steep ramp to reach the sixth floor, while the building’s lower levels are inaccessible. There are listening devices and park brochures available in Braille, Spanish, and English.

What Is There To See At El Morro?

Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, El Morro has a lot to impress travelers. Travelers can take some epic pictures of the beautifully scenic views as they walk through the walkways. At the entrance of the fortress is a stunning lush lawn – and tourists can join the locals in flying kites in the park, especially in splendid weather on weekends. One can take in the incredible view of the Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery from the lawn and the walkway. The main courtyard of the building's walls is decorated with cheery yellow color and accented with white – giving opportunities for stunning photos. There is a lot of history and facts about the fort on the many boards mounted on this level. The three flags that fly at the fortress are beautiful to watch from one of the terraces or the courtyard.

Related: Discover Puerto Rico's Old San Juan - The Oldest In The USA

Admission To The Fortress

Travelers pay an admission fee to access and explore Puerto Rico's most famous historic site. The fee paid usually covers both El Morro and Castillo San Cristobal, located nearby the fortress. Visitors with an America the Beautiful National Parks passes automatically have admission to El Morro and Castillo San Cristobal. Buying tickets at the entrance to the fortress on the visitation day is also an alternative.

  • Admission Fee: $10
  • Time To Spend At El Morro: Between 2 and 3 hours is enough to explore this beautiful historic site

Best Time To Visit El Morro

Visiting El Morro during the peak season (mid-December-mid-April) can be messy, especially during the day as there are lots of crowds. The trick is visiting to explore the fort during the early mornings to have a more beautiful experience and enjoy photo opportunities without crowds. One should actually be at the entrance at the opening time as there are just a handful of other travelers. Later in the day, the lawn and the pathways will be crowded with tourists, and the tour experience may not be that enjoyable.

  • Opening Times: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm every day, except for New Year’s, Christmas, and Thanksgiving Day.
  • Facilities: There are restrooms mounted at the entrance level of the fort, a bookstore, and a gift shop selling drinks, snacks, and souvenirs. The fort features a water fountain, and travelers can always bring refillable water bottles.

Where To Stay

One of the most beautiful and comfortable places to stay in El Morro is the historic Hotel El Convento, a stunning ancient hotel located at the center of San Juan. From this hotel, travelers can enjoy short walking distances to most of the top old city attractions, including the Castillo San Cristobal. The rooms in this hotel are spacious, and the furnishings are great. The staff is welcoming, and the quality of food and drinks here is second to none!

Travelers who haven't been to San Juan to explore Puerto Rico's most famous historic site should definitely visit and enjoy the beautiful city as well as the fascinating sights surrounding the fortress.