If you make your way to Puerto Rico, I and many others may suggest visiting Ponce. Ponce, located in the south of Puerto Rico is rich in history and museums. It’s also the city where my maternal grandfather lived, so it was on our list to visit the City of Lions. Its nickname thanks to the fact that it was founded by Spanish conquistador Ponce de Leon. Being so, you will see statues, street art, and more depicting lions around the city. Ponce is also home to Castillo Serralles, or the Serralles Castle, and the Cruceta del Vigia or the Cross of Vigia. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in a bit of history, Ponce and Castillo Serralles are excellent options.
Museums in Downtown Ponce-
Unfortunately because of Covid-19 many of the museums we wanted to visit were still closed so we were not able to visit all the museums we wanted to. One of the most famous of all, Parque de Bombas, traditionally a firehouse turned museum that tells the history of Ponce, was also closed so pictures of the exterior would have to do.
Castillo Serralles or Castle Serralles was owned by the Serralles family. This family prospered due to their sugarcane business and their creation, Don Q, a Puerto Rican Rum. Don Q is very famous in Puerto Rico, and I’ve heard it to be more preferable to Bacardi, for many Puerto Ricans on the island. The grounds surrounding the castle include intricate gardens, one of which is a butterfly garden. At the entrance, you can choose to take a guided tour of the inside or do a self-guided tour of the grounds and cross.
La Cruceta del Vigia and the Japanese Garden-
La Cruceta (the cross) is located up the hill from Castillo Serralles and gives you great views of Ponce when you get to the top of the cross. Take a quick break at the old-styled Tienda (store) where you can buy refreshments at the entrance of La Cruceta del Vigia. Just across La Cruceta is the Japanese garden where you can see different plants and trees. It’s also a great spot to sit and enjoy the views.
Casa Museo de Los Santo Reyes in Juana Diaz-
Juana Diaz is a town east of Ponce, with its own interesting history including Casa Museo de Los Santo Reyes or House Museum of the Saint Kings ( Three Kings Museum) is a museum that showcases artwork and the history of the celebration or festival of Three Kings Day or Ephianhy, which began in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico. History says that this celebration was founded by Father Valentin Echevarria of Spain in 1884 in Puerto Rico. The celebrations grew into parades, that have visited cities around the world including New York and cities in South and Central America and neighboring Caribbean islands. Three Kings Day is commonly celebrated by Puerto Ricans, especially in Puerto Rico with parades and festivals still to this day during the month of January. Although the holiday is one day, it is celebrated for many days during the holiday season in Puerto Rico.
Other places to visit in Ponce-
Museo de Arte de Ponce- Holds the famous Flaming June painting along with other renowned works of art. It is also the Caribbeans’ largest museum.
La Guancha boardwalk- This is said to be a great local spot for food, drinks, live music, and a good spot to enjoy wildlife. You can also go kayaking and paddleboarding here.
Hacienda Buena Vista- Ponce’s coffee museuem.
Plaza de la Delicias- A local plaza to relax.
I hope this gives you some ideas on what you can see and do in Ponce, Puerto Rico. By the time you read this, hopefully, the places that were closed due to Covid will be open. Finally remember that when you travel, your vacation spot is someone’s home so please be respectful.- T.S.