El Morro National Monument, also known as the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, offers a glimpse into Puerto Rico’s history as well as some of the best views in the city. This 400 year-old fortress sits on the northern tip of the San Juan Island., with breathtaking opportunities for photos or just to sit and contemplate the sparkling blue water.
This impressive stone fortress was originally built and used by Spanish colonialists to defend against attacks from the sea. From the late 19th century until 1961, El Morro was occupied by the American Military service and operated as an active military base for both World War I and II. Today, the site is has UNESCO World Heritage status and attracts over two million visitors per year, making it the city’s most popular historical attraction.
Begin your visit to El Morro with a free orientation, given hourly by rangers. The 20-minute talk gives an excellent overview of the history and architecture of the fort, and is offered in both English and Spanish. Discover why the walls are over 18 feet (five meters) thick and how it took over 200 years to complete construction of the massive building.
Explore the grounds of El Morro on your own time with the help of a self-guided tour, and don’t be shy about asking a ranger for additional information. Maps and tour brochures with descriptions of points of interest are included in the entrance fee, and there are annotated markers throughout the park.
Climb through the fort’s six stories for some of the best views of San Juan. From the third level visitors can take in breathtaking views across the historic city, and the ocean beyond it.
El Morro, or Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, is located on the outskirts of Old San Juan. While no public transportationation operates within the historic quarter, you’ll will have no problem reaching El Morro on foot. Taxis are also available in the area, however driving yourself is not recommended due to the narrow, one-way streets and the difficulty of navigation. El Morro is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and there is a modest fee for entry.