Plaza de Armas (Arms Square), San Juan

Plaza de Armas (Arms Square), San Juan (must see)

Arms Square is one of the main squares in San Juan. Over the years, it has changed several names relative to the functions it served. Initially, in 1521, it was called Vegetables Square. Then, during the 17th-19th centuries, it was known as Arms Square, for being the ground for military exercises. Then, by the early 20th century, it was back to Vegetables Square again, and used as a market. Nowadays it is known as Arms Square again.

Arms Square is the city’s de-facto central square, modeled on the classic squares of Madrid and Mexico. Although the square had factually existed for centuries, it was not until 1840 that the city council approved its proper construction, which commenced in 1851. It was then that the four statues made of bronze and oil-coated to simulate marble, representing the Commerce, Industry, Science and the Arts, arrived here. In fact, there were a total of eight statues to be installed, but the other four were lost. In 1872 the original statues were removed and the new marble ones, representing the Four Seasons, put in their place in the four corners of the square.

In 1955 two circular fountains and two lampposts in the center were added. The four statues were then configured in a circular fountain in front of the Palacio de la Real Intendencia on the western side, which houses the Department of State of Puerto Rico.

A highlight on the northern side is the Spanish colonial style Casa Alcaldía – home of San Juan City Hall – built in 1789, with twin turrets resembling those of a sister building in Madrid. A tinkling fountain, seating, shade trees, and a couple of old-school coffee booths make this a good spot for a sightseeing break.

Why You Should Visit:
An important social gathering spot, used for generations, and a popular tourist attraction.

Tip:
This laid-back space is loved by the locals to buy snacks, watch shows, play dominoes, and chat with friends. Take a seat on a bench to give your feet a break and soak up some of the everyday comings and goings. You can also buy your kids some traditional treats like sesame-seed lollipops or coconut candies.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in San Juan. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. 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 de Armas (Arms Square) on Map

Sight Name: Plaza de Armas (Arms Square)
Sight Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico (See walking tours in San Juan)
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 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 walking tour!

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

Souvenir Shopping

Puerto Rico was colonized by Spain following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1493. Among the crafts that followed the Spanish to the island was mundillo, a kind of decorative lace made of wooden bobbins. Over the next few centuries, the mundillo craft flourished on the island and today is one of the most popular local products sought after by visitors.

Being Caribbean, the country also...  view more

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

San Juan Historical Buildings

San Juan was founded by the Spanish in 1521, which makes it the third oldest European-established capital city on the American continent. Owning to its long history, the old town of San Juan is filled to the brim with heritage colonial buildings.

Chief among them, La Fortaleza is the longest-standing executive mansion in continuous use in America, whereas the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista is...  view more

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

Old San Juan Walking Tour

Founded by Spanish colonists in 1521, who called it "Rich Port City", San Juan is the third oldest European-established capital city in the Americas and the oldest one in the U.S. territories.

During the Spanish colonial times, most of the city population resided in what is now known as Old San Juan. Today, this part of the town is a lovely historical area renowned for its narrow...  view more

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

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