Weekly Snapshot: Garitas of Old San Juan

Garita of Old San JuanGarita of Old San Juan

Old San Juan Garitas – Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, the oldest city governed by the U.S., was built as a military stronghold.  Due to its purpose, the city’s 7 square blocks were surrounded by thick fortified walls and bounded by two fortresses: El Morro and Fort San Cristóbal.  Old San Juan’s forts and city walls are among the best preserved in the hemisphere.

A unique aspect of these fortresses and fortified walls are its garitas – small, circular sentry posts where guards would stand watch. Since Old San Juan’s forts and city walls are among the best preserved in the hemisphere, you can still find garitas all around the city, as well as in both fortresses – some of them dating back to 1539.

The garitas provided protection for the city, and protection for the guards as well; their long, narrow openings made it difficult for enemy gunfire to hit the targets inside.  Due to the garita’s small size, soldiers standing guard inside them were usually not higher than 5 feet.

Since these guard post played an important part in the security and history of the island, the garita is now the national symbol of Puerto Rico.

The most famous of the garitas is at Fort San Cristobal, and it is known as “Garita del Diablo” (Devil’s guerite). It is located on a sharp point of the fort, close to the water. Legend says that soldiers disappeared randomly from this specific garita. However, it is mostly believed -and told so in various local stories- that the only soldier that apparently disappeared did so to escape with his girlfriend.  Devil’s work there?  Far from it…  this is just an urban legend.

Want to know more about Old San Juan Garitas?  Check out Gray’s, of SoloFriendly, experience when she visited these garitas.

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    • says

      Yes, all Old San Juan was once surrounded by fortress walls. Today, you can still see them in most places, and they are pretty well preserved. There were various fortresses in the old city, but the two that stand out are El Morro and San Cristobal. Pretty cool places to visit!

  1. says

    I saw this only when the sun was setting and from a cruise ship which, unbelievably, docked at 9pm and left at midnight. Still this brings back memories and the wish to return.

    • says

      Wow, that’s such a strange docking time for a cruise. Was it scheduled like that in the beginning? But, you got one of the best views of El Morro. In my opinion it is most beautiful and majestic when seen from the sea.

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