On November 19, 1493 Columbus landed on the island the Tainos called “Borinkén”- when the Genoese merchant landed on the island, it was home to an estimated 50,000 Taino natives. Columbus’s landing on the north shore would change the history of the island, and the world, in ways neither group could even imagine. In 1505 Spain officially declared the island under their Crown, and the modern, documented history of Puerto Rico kicked off.
Originally the island itself was called San Juan, and its naturally gifted harbor Puerto Rico. Over time this was swapped, and by 1535 San Juan had become the wealthiest port of the Americas. But the Spaniards had landed on a contested gem. In 1510, Taino tribes led by A chieftain, Urayoan, drowned a Spanish soldier to see if they were immortal. That’s when the first Taino rebellions began, and they would haunt the first hundred years of Spanish settlement. But the bigger threat was from the sea. English and Dutch ships had their eye on Puerto Rico almost immediately- and with that the El Morro was drafted and set.
The El Morro is a massive fortress. Part castle, part battery, part lighthouse. It was begun in 1535 and fully completed in the 1580s. Defending both the port and city itself, the Old San Juan still has its old ancient walls. Defending San Juan from the English, Dutch, French, pirates and privateers, it served its purpose all the way until August 13, 1898- the day the United States became the only foreign power to occupy Puerto Rico. But, the ram bow battleships and 12 inch guns never were able to take down the fort...
Taken on August 15, 2016 on a BlackBerry Priv.