The Danza was a romantic Spanish form of music and dance


What is local culture? San Juan today is a thriving cosmopolitan city. A modern day 'Sanjuanero' would consider culture to be attending a performance at 'Bellas Artes' (center for the performing arts), visiting the art galleries in Old San Juan on Gallery night, dining in one of the many popular restaurants in Old San Juan, Isla Verde, Hato Rey etc. Attending the new movie theater for foreign films on the lower side of Ballaja ( Old San Juan).


Fine Dining: try my favorites, Pikayo and Aguaviva.

Perhaps most revealing would be a trip to the Plaza Las Americas shopping mall, a super mall that does an tremendous business. Shops, movie theaters, food courts all would attest to the slight cultural differences found in Puerto Rico and also the similarities. You would have to leave the city of San Juan to see the 'countryside' (which is also quickly changing and leaving the past behind).

The Mercado de Santurce ( market place) is a nice look around, good food too. Friday nights it's one big party with music as well.

For the visitor to Puerto Rico, local culture often means a look at the past. Memories of another time and era. Danzas, Bombas and Plenas ( all dances) Where can this 'Cultural Heritage' best be found?

Museums. A day or two in Old San Juan walking the streets and visiting the museums. Ponce has several interesting museums. San German has the Port Coeli. Guayama has Casa Cautiño on the plaza and is one of the cleaner and more attractive small towns.

Visit the El Yunque Gallery with artist Davids' very organic paintings and constructions. Located in Palmer, the little 'town' you drive through just off the highway on your way up to the road #191 that goes up to El Yunque.


Traditions: Three Kings Day Patrons Saints Day Festival of Loiza Aldea

LEGENDS of Loiza Aldea and the artist Samuel Lind.

Alejandro Puerto Rican artesan hammock maker

Don Alejandro is a well known hammock maker.

The architecture of the historic downtown Plaza in Ponce, Puerto Rico


A list of Museums.


Fort El Morro is at the top of the hill of Old San Juan. At the other end of Norzagaray Street is the San Cristobal Fort, walk between the two forts, along the road at the top. If you have a choice, see them on two different days.

• Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Built between 1539 and 1589, with later expansions, rises 140 feet above the sea, looking over the entrance to San Juan Harbour, the fort is a maze of tunnels, dungeons, barracks, and canon ramps. It consists of 74 acres of grounds and fort. Open 9 am to 5 pm.

• Castillo San Cristobal was built in the 1700's, one of the largest defense systems ever built in the Americas. Guided tours are available Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays at 10, 11 am and 2 and 3 pm. You can wander around the mazes and tunnels on your own, 9 am to 6 pm. t. 729-6754.

Near the El Morro fort are the following museums:

• Dominican Convent built by Dominican friars in 1523. Houses a small chapel museum. 98 Norzagaray St. Open daily 8 am to 4:30 pm t. 721-6866

• * Museo de Las Américas, 'Ballajá', several different exhibits on the second floor, some changing, Cultures of North, Central and South America. Large building with courtyard. Closed Monday. Art films downstairs in the evenings. 10 to 4 weekdays& 11 to 5 weekends. t. 724-5052, 723-4481

• Museo de Arte y Historia de San Juan Contemporary Puerto Rican sculpture and clay, paintings and in impressive exhibit of hand carved 'Santos'. 150 Norazagaray Street. Closed Saturday and Sunday. 8 am to 4:30 pm. t. 724-1875

• Museo del Indio Photographic exhibits of indigenous people, artifacts, tools and stone carvings. First floor of Institute of Culture Norzagaray Street. 9 am to 4:30 pm. t. 724-0700 ext. 4223

• African Heritage Museum. On the San Jose Plaza, San Sebastian Street. t. 724-4294

• Pablo Casals Museum, on the San Jose Plaza. Original manuscripts of his work, his cello and piano. closed Sunday and Monday. 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. t. 723-9185 $1.

-------- Try lunch at 'Amadeus' Restaurant -----

Walking down the cobble stoned Cristo Street:

• * Casa Blanca Museum, built in 1521 by the family of Ponce de Leon, who lived in it for 250 years. It is now a historical museum with 2 sections, one of the Taino Indians and one of the history of the house. Closed Mondays. t. 725-1454, 724-4102

• Museum of Felica Rincón de Gautier. Former home of first woman Mayor of San Juan. Photographs, elaborate wigs, fans, keys to cities. 51 Caleta Street. Closed Saturday and Sunday. Open 9 am to 4 pm. t. 723-1897

• La Fortaleza ( the governors mansion) is open to the public on a limited basis, mostly the grounds.

• Casa del Libro. Museum and Library with rare books and manuscripts, including two royal mandates ( signed by Ferdinan and Isabela) concerning the provisioning of Columbus's second voyage, in which Puerto Rico was discovered. Cristo Street. 11 am to 4:30 pm closed Sunday and Monday. t. 723-0354


• Casa de la Familia Puertoriqueña t. 977-2700

• Casa Ramón Power y Giralt. Restored home in which the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust has a small exhibit about critical environmental concerns. 10 am- 4 pm, closed Sunday and Monday. t. 722-5834

• Casa de los Contrafuertes. Changing exhibits of Latin American Prints. closed Monday and Tuesday. 9 am to 4:30 pm t. 724-5477
• Casa de Los Zaguanes. ( two foyers) 8 am to 4 pm. closed Saturday and Sunday t. 724-5477

• Casa Rosada. built in 1812, Government tourist office with brochures, maps and a welcome cocktail. Open daily 8 am to 5 pm t. 724-1454 $2.

• La Casita ( little yellow building by the waterfront) Government tourism office, brochures, maps, free cocktail. Open late daily, hours vary. t. 722-1709

FOOD: Try 'La Bombonera' for breakfast and 'Aguaviva' (amazing seafood) or Café Berlin ( tasty food, also serve marvelous vegetarian meals) for lunch. . Dinners: Aguaviva, Café Berlin, Parrot Club, Sophia, Dragonflies, there are several nice restaurants in front of the parking buildings ( Thai, Hard Rock Cafe, Puerto Rican food).


• * Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, De Diego Ave. Santurce, Puerto Rico's' most treasured works of art, including Francisco Oller and Jose Campeche. theater, restaurant and sculpture gardens. Closed Monday. Open 10 am to 5 pm, later on Wednesday nights, t. 977-6277 $5.
Nice restaurant.

• * Museo de Arte Contemporáneo on Ponce de Leon ave. at stop 18. Santurce. New museum with very good exhibits by Puerto Rican and Latin American contemporary artists. t. 977-4030/31

• * Museum of History, Anthropology and Art at the University of PR, main campus in Rio Piedras. History, archeology and fine arts. t. 764-3939

• * The Botanical Gardens are somewhat near the University and have a sculpture garden, many paths and areas planted with exotic plants and flowers.


• Luis Muñoz Marin Foundation ( Trujillo Alto) t. 755-7979
• Casa Museo Dr. José Celso Barbosa (Bayamon) t. 786-8115
• Casa Jesus T. Piñero ( Canovanas) t. 977-2700
• Caparra ruins historical Museum and Park (Guaynabo) t. 781-4795


• Museo de Arte de Caguas t. 744-8833

Vega Baja:
• Casa Alonso Museum of Art, History & Culture t. 858-7113

• Museo y Centro de Estudios Humanisticos de La Universidad del Turabo t. 743-7979

• Casa Luis Muñoz Rivera t. 857-0230



• Museo de Arte de Ponce. t. 848-0505

• * Ponce History Museum is a lovely, restored, 'art nouveau' style home with lots of stained glass and a bathtub carved out of one piece of local marble. History exhibits are all in Spanish.

-- Eat lunch ( or dinner) at 'Mark's', gourmet cuisine in the Melía Hotel on the Ponce Plaza --

• Castillo Serrallés Museum t. 259-1770
• Music Museum t. 848-7016
• Museo de la Masacre t. 844-9722
• Casa Paoli Museum t. 840-4115

• Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Caguana t. 894-7300

• Coamo Museum t. 825-1150

• Casa Cautiño Museum t. 864-9083
• Guayama Fine Arts Museum ( Unique finely carved gourd exhibit).


San German:
• Porta Coeli Religious Art Museum t. 892-5845


• Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo t. 832-6330. Birds, monkeys, lions, tigers, giraffes, reptiles and amphibians. closes 3:30 pm and closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
• Tropical Agricultural Research Station t. 831-3435. weekdays to 4 pm

Vieques Island:

• Museo Fort Conde del Mirasol t. 741-1717 Art & artifacts exhibits, great views of Isabel II.
• Lighthouse Museum ( opening soon?)
• Historical and Conservation Trust . Nature oriented. Small fish tanks. 741-8850.