Not packed in a bus. Not herded with a group. Self guided walk is the SAFEST way to sightsee while observing SOCIAL DISTANCING!
San Juan Gate and City Wall, San Juan

San Juan Gate and City Wall, San Juan (must see)

Built in the late 1700s, Puerta de San Juan (San Juan Gate) is a giant (40 feet) doorway, the last remaining of the original five carved into the three-mile wall, La Muralla, that once surrounded the city. Presently, the wall wraps around Old San Juan from the cruise-ship piers on San Juan Harbor to the capitol on the Atlantic.

Originally, each gate had a designated function. The red gate of San Juan played a symbolic role of main entrance to the city, and was named in honor of Saint John the Baptist. The first thing you notice approaching it is the inscription of The Sanctus (“Holy”) hymn from Catholic liturgy.

La Muralla is the most enduring symbol of Puerto Rico, built by the Spanish between 1539 and 1782. Made of sandstone, rubble, and mortar blocks 20 feet thick, the wall measures 45 feet wide and 40 feet high in some spots, and was meant to protect San Juan from invaders, notably the English, the Dutch, and the Americans. Its iconic sentry boxes now symbolize the island’s Spanish heritage and resilience in an ever-changing world.

Nearly impenetrable to foreign attack, La Muralla has proved defenseless against modern automobile traffic, pollution, and misguided attempts to preserve it that have seriously endangered the wall, leaving it crumbling in some places. In 1938 and 2004 large sections of the wall fell, underscoring the urgency of stepping up preservation efforts.

Currently a National Historic Site, La Muralla is maintained by the National Park Service attempting to recreate the magic mixture of sand, water, and limestone used to stucco the wall. Along with the adjoining fortresses of El Morro and San Cristóbal, La Muralla attracts annually 1.2 million visitors.

Why You Should Visit:
To see two of the most precious historic landmarks and popular sights in Puerto Rico.
To walk up the same path that the Spanish dignitaries did when entered the city, straight into the Catedral San Juan Bautista (San Juan Cathedral) to thank God for a safe voyage.

Tip:
If you pass through the gate from outside the city, you can either turn right to Paseo del Morro or left to Paseo de La Princesa.
As you walk through the gate, pause and notice how thick the city walls are. As soon as you pass, look out for street vendors on the corner offering refreshments including Puerto Ricans’ favorite, piragua.

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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San Juan Gate and City Wall on Map

Sight Name: San Juan Gate and City Wall
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.
San Juan Historic Buildings

San Juan Historic 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
San Juan Art Museums And Galleries Tour

San Juan Art Museums And Galleries Tour

San Juan is a great place to learn more about Caribbean, Latin American and Puerto Rican art. It has many interesting museums and excellent galleries, featuring fine works by talented international and local artists. Check out San Juan’s most popular art museums and galleries on this self walking tour!

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
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
Old San Juan East Side Walking Tour

Old San Juan East Side Walking Tour

The east side of Old San Juan is home to several interesting historical sites, including Castillo de San Cristóbal, El Capitolio, Casa De España and Monumento de la Recordación. Take the following tour to discover the fascinating attractions located in Old San Juan’s east side!

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 Km or 0.7 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
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

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...