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San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico and its largest city. The city was founded by Spanish colonists in 1521, making it the oldest settlement in Puerto Rico and the oldest city under the jurisdiction of the United States. This history is evident in its many old buildings, in particular in the Old San Juan neighbourhood. Highlights include the fortress of Castillo San Cristóbal, the city hall Alcadia (1602), San Jose Church (1532) and La Fortaleza, the oldest governor's mansion in the New World to have been in continuous use.
La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico is the only site on the island that is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Here, a series of defensive structures was built during the period between 1400 and 1900 at a strategic point in the Caribbean Sea to protect the city and the Bay of San Juan. They represent a fine display of European military architecture adapted to harbour sites on the American continent. The site includes Fort San Cristóbal, Fort San Felipe del Morro, Fort San Juan de la Cruz (called El Cañuelo as well), and bastions, powder houses, and three quarters of the city wall surrounding San Juan.
Starting off the year in January is Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian. Held annually in San Juan, this festival offers residents one last holiday party. Lasting three nights, the event is a celebration of the saint Sebastian with a huge street party. Visitors will be treated to vibrant music, colorful dancing and, invariably, a great deal of drinking.
One of the most anticipated festivals in Puerto Rico, Carniva, is a hallmark of February each year. Taking over the central plaza of all major cities, Carnival is a brilliant display of Puerto Rican culture at its finest. Visitors will see everything from street parades to masked dances. Although not as flamboyant as some other countries, this event is still highly enjoyable and worth engaging in.
Also in February is Festival Casals which has been taking place in San Juan for over 50 years. This event is entirely dedicated to the life and work of Pablo Casals, the world-famous cellist and honorary Puerto Rican. Music spans almost an entire month and showcases some of the best classical and jazz performers from around the globe.
Another beloved music festival, the Heineken JazzFest takes place in March every year in the trendy San Juan metropolitan area. JazzFest showcases both local and international talents and is an institution that has been happening for over 20 years. The main focus, unsurprisingly, is Latin Jazz, which provides a great deal of entertainment for everyone who chooses to go.
There are many food festivals in Puerto Rico throughout the year, but by far the most popular is the Saborea Culinary Festival in San Juan. Held annually in April the weekend is a feast of flavors, influences and styles. Top local and international chefs make appearances and there are a plethora of workshops to keep visitors entertained. Anyone planning on attending will definitely not leave hungry.
An amazing display of one of the finest cultural activities in Puerto Rico, the International Salsa Congress takes place in July. Held annually in San Juan, the congress brings together dancers and salsa lovers from around the world to celebrate this vibrant and exciting form of dance. Lasting for two weeks, there are several live music shows and the main event – a piping hot dance competition.
San Juan has a hot and humid climate with temperatures rarely dropping below 18º C at night. Average daytime temperatures hoover around 30º C, a bit cooler from December to April and a bit warmer between June and October. This latter period also is the rainy season with a chance of hurricanes from late July onwards. Obviously, this is not the best time to visit.
Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) is where all international planes arrive and depart. It serves as the Caribbean hub for American Airlines and American Eagle and there are connections to almost every island nation in the region with these two airlines.
Many other airlines based in the United States serve Puerto Rico from numerous cities. These include Delta Air Lines and US Airways.
Destinations further away include Frankfurt, London and Madrid in Europe and several cities in South America like Bogota.
|Casa Candela||San Sebastian street #152||Guesthouse||-|
|Casa Del Caribe||57 Caribe St. Condado||Guesthouse||-|
|Numero Uno Guest House||1 Santa Ana San Juan||Guesthouse||-|
Internet cafes exist but are not very common, although some cafes, such as Starbucks, and restaurants, such as Subway, provide free WiFi. Some of the major metro areas provide free WiFi zones, such as along Paseo de la Princesa in Old San Juan, but these tend to be slow and unreliable. There is no free WiFi at the primary airport, Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU). Most hotels provide wired or wireless (or both) internet for guests, either for free or a fee, however many motels do not. Puerto has continually strived to improve the Internet on the island.
See also International Telephone Calls
Puerto Rico has a modern cellular network. All the major US carriers are represented and are not roaming for US subscribers with nationwide plans. Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile have native coverage, while Verizon roams on their legacy network now operated by Claro. Other CDMA carriers also use Claro or Sprint. For non-US travelers, AT&T and T-Mobile are the GSM carriers, while Sprint and Claro are CDMA and probably not compatible with your phone.
The mail service in Puerto Rico is provided by the United States Postal Service. Local branches are abundant (there are more than five in the San Juan area alone) and operate on the same business hours as American post offices: Monday - Friday 8:30am to 5:30pm; Saturday 9am to 12pm. The rates and delivery times are the same as those in the mainland United States and all international rates are the same as mail originating in the United States.
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