Ponce Plaza church in Puerto Rico


City of PONCE: Ponce was founded in 1692 by Juan Ponce de León's great-grandson. Like most Spanish colonial towns it had a square with a church and the cábildo o casa alcaldía (municipal building). These two buildings, church and state, were the center of any colonial city life. Nearly half a billion dollars has been spent preserving the colonial architecture of Ponce. The center of Ponce dates from the late 1600's and is a national treasure with plazas and churches and colonial homes, fountains and a unique fire station. The Ramada Hotel, on the plaza, has a nice restaurant called Lolas.

Flaming June painting in the Ponce Museum of art


The Ponce Museum of Art. The museum was donated by a foundation established by Luis A Ferré (Governor 1968-72). The building contains one of the most important pre-Raphaelite collections in the western hemisphere. Flaming June (photo above) is a painting by Sir Frederic Leighton, produced in 1895. The museum houses more than 1,000 paintings and 400 sculptures, works by Velasquez, Rubens and Rodin. Many important Puerto Rican pieces are included in the collection. The museum also offers exhibits by contemporary Puerto Rican artists. Open daily 10am - 5pm. Admission: Adults $4, children $2, (787) 848-0511

Castillo Serralles (Serralles Castle) located near to El Vigia Hill, is a lovely landscaped former residence of the most powerful rum-producing families, the Serralles family, producers of Don Q rum. The Serralles Castle is a magnificent example of Spanish Revival architecture, popular in the 1920's; indoor patio with fountains, beautiful formal gardens paralleling the style of the house, well-manicured plants growing in a pattern that matches the ironwork on the house, completed in the early 1930's. Open Thu-Sun 9:30am-5:30pm, admissions $3.00, children $1.50, groups must reserve in advance, (787) 259-1774.

For a incredible view, drive to the summit of El Vigia Hill, Visitors can ascend La Cruz del Vigia, a 100-foot observation tower, and view of Ponce and Caja de Muertos.

The Museo de la Historia de Ponce (Museum of the History of Ponce) in a beautiful art deco house. One of the finer buildings in Ponce. Tells the story of the Seralles family as well. Located at 53 Calle Isabel. (Closed Tuesdays) 9am-5pm, admission US $3 for adults, US $1 for children, (787) 844-7071.

Hacienda Buena Vista also known as Hacienda Vives (Buena Vista Plantation) was built in 1833 originally devoted to growing fruits, converted into a coffee plantation and corn mill in 1845 and in operation till 1937, then restored by Fideicomiso de Conservación de Puerto Rico. All the machinery works (the metal parts are original), operated by water channeled from the 360m Vives waterfall; the hydraulic turbine which turns the corn mill is unique. Located at Rte. 10, Barrio Magüeyes, km 16.8. Open Fri-Sun, tours at 8:30am, 10:30am, 1:30PM and 3:30PM US$5 adults, US$1 children under 12. Reservations are required. Weekdays (787) 722-5882, weekends (787) 848-7020.

"La Guancha Paseo Tablado", the boardwalk, is a fun stop. The pier here is very social in the evenings. It is also the departure point for a regularly scheduled weekend ferry to "Caja de Muertos" Ferry services: Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 8 am and return by 5pm. $25. round trip per person or $53. with 'meals'. Departs at 8 AM.

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