Plaza Colon (Columbus Square), San Juan

Plaza Colon (Columbus Square), San Juan

Columbus Square is one of the most important squares in San Juan. Originally known as Santiago Square, back in the 17th century this square literally marked the doorstep to the old town. Encircled by stone walls in 1635-1641, the only way into the city was then through five gates, the centermost of which was Puerta de Santiago or Puerta de Tierra (the Land Gate), straddling the sole highway linking the walled San Juan islet to the rest of Puerto Rico by land.

By 1772 the urban tapestry of San Juan had become more or less apparent, and the open space adjacent to the city's most important doorway had taken the shape of Santiago Square, albeit still unpaved at that time and long afterwards. From 1862, several projects had been undertaken to refurbish the square until in 1870 it finally started to take its current shape. In 1893 the statue of Christopher Columbus was installed to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of Puerto Rico, upon which the square was renamed Colón, or Columbus Square.

To the south of the square is a gem of Puerto Rican entertainment culture, the Teatro Tapia. Inaugurated in 1824, this lovely piece of neoclassical architecture was initially known as the San Juan Municipal Theater. Over the years, many notable performers have graced its stage, including the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Outside the theater, along Fortaleza Street, there are a number of quaint restaurants and cute little cafes. Overlooking the square, in good weather, they are absolutely wonderful to sip some iced coffee outside whilst enjoying the sight of Columbus Square, the symbol of progress and testament of new and old San Juan!

This sight is featured in a self-guided walking tour of San Juan, Puerto Rico within the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" which can be downloaded from iTunes App Store or Google Play. Please download the app to your mobile phone or tablet for travel directions for visiting this sight. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Plaza Colon (Columbus Square) on Map

Sight Name: Plaza Colon (Columbus Square)
Sight Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Create Your Own Walk in San Juan

Create Your Own Walk in San Juan

Creating your own self-guided walk in San Juan is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Old San Juan Walking Tour

Old San Juan Walking Tour

The old town of San Juan, capital of Puerto Rico, is a lovely historic area with a wealth of colorful Spanish colonial architecture. The most notable landmarks include 16th-century El Morro and La Fortaleza fortresses, towering over the Atlantic, and the Paseo de la Princesa bayside promenade, to mention but a few. To explore Old San Juan's most prominent sights, follow this self-guided walk.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles
Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

It would be a pity to leave San Juan without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to San Juan, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 Km or 0.6 Miles
San Juan Historical Buildings

San Juan Historical Buildings

San Juan proudly features the country’s oldest quarters and historic buildings. In addition to having the oldest occupied residence in the Western Hemisphere, visitors can also admire the old City Hall, the Cristo Chapel, the historic El Arsenal and many other fascinating attractions. Take this self guided tour to see the most popular and famous historic buildings in San Juan!

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Old San Juan Squares

Old San Juan Squares

A distinctive feature of Old San Juan is the number of quaint historic squares. Many of them are adorned with beautiful fountains, prominent monuments and intricate sculptures recounting rich history of this amazing city. Check out San Juan’s most popular squares on this self-guided tour!

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


13 Distinctively Puerto Rican Goods to Bring Home from San Juan

13 Distinctively Puerto Rican Goods to Bring Home from San Juan

The uniqueness of Puerto Rico is partially associated with its political status - part of the United States yet with a Latin twist. Other than their widely-acknowledged musical talents, e.g. Carlos Santana and Ricky Martin, Puerto Rico is just as rich in many other good things. When you're in...