San Fillipe del Morro (El Morro Fort)


Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Carmen on January 30, 2004

The El Morro fort sits on a cliff overlooking the entrance to the San Juan Bay in Old San Juan -- and it was built to protect Spain's "gateway to the Caribbean." It's also one of the largest forts built by Spain in the Caribbean.

The walk up to the fort along a gravel path offered spectacular views. There was a beautiful pink dome against the green lawn and white stone fort. There was also a beautiful cemetery at the base of the fort.

Entrance to El Morro, built in 1539, was $3. (A little tip: if you want to visit El Morro and its sister fort San Cristobal, admission is $5 for both. The forts are on opposite sides of Old San Juan, so it's a bit of a walk between the two.) El Morro Fort is open every day from 10am-5pm. There are guided tours available every two hours starting at 11am (in English). We chose the self-guided option.

After exploring sentry posts (it did not smell good in there) and taking pictures with a cannon-eye view (all in the very hot sun), we watched a short 20-minute movie (in the very nice air-conditioned theater area) about the history of the fort and all the attacks that were made on it. The fort wasn’t so much successful at defending the island, as the attackers were bumbling idiots and luck was on the side of Puerto Rico. Even Sir Francis Drake attacked the fort unsuccessfully. He staged a brilliant night attack, but lit all the boats in the bay on fire, which helped the soldiers in the fort see his location. What's up with that? The fort finally succumbed to the Americans during the Spanish-American war.Now both the Puerto Rican and American flags fly in this U.S. Park Service National Historic Site.

The MAIN reason to go, in my opinion, is the view – it is out-of-this-world! Just look at the pictures!
El Morro/Castillo de San Felipe del Morro
On San Juan Bay Calle Norzagaray
San Juan, Puerto Rico, 00901
(787) 729 6960

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