Enter San Juan through the last remaining gateway from the city’s walls and discover the military history of its atmospheric Old Town.
Learn something about the history of Puerto Rico’s capital as you walk through San Juan Gate. The eye-catching red frame of the gateway is hard to miss when strolling around the historic walls of the city. Come through the gate to arrive in the heart of Old San Juan, a neighborhood packed with attractions from the city’s fascinating past.
Read the information plaque outside the gate to learn about the history of this landmark. The gate was built in 1635 and was the formal point of entry into the city. Visiting dignitaries arrived through this gate, whereas the other four gates were used for merchants and other everyday traffic. Upon entering, nobles walked to the nearby cathedral and thanked God for their safe passage.
Stroll down the Paseo de la Princesa, a scenic, tree-lined promenade, to reach the old gate. The bright red wood of the gateway stands out from the rest of the old walls. Look upward to read the Latin inscription, which says “Blessed are those who come in the name of the Lord.”
Note the thickness of the walls as you cross through the gateway, which demonstrates how strong the fortifications of Old San Juan were. In its heyday, it was one of the best fortified cities in the Caribbean. Once on the other side, you are in the heart of the historic district, just moments from City Hall on Plaza de Armas.
Follow the Paseo del Morro, a pathway around the edges of the walls, to see how the vast defenses were built on top of sea cliffs, making the city almost impenetrable. The coastal footpath leads all the way to the fortress of El Morro (Castillo de San Felipe del Morro).
San Juan Gate is located in the western part of Old San Juan, facing the bay. Reach it on foot from other nearby attractions. La Fortaleza, San Juan Cathedral and Casa Blanca are all about 5 minutes away when walking around the historic district.