Must-See: El Morro Fort - San Juan, Puerto Rico

The imposing stone walls rose up before me, a sprawling giants beside the sea. But what caught my gaze was the expanse of grass rolling down from it, dotted with dozens of locals flying their kites on the ocean breeze.

On any given Sunday, you will find a good number of boricuas flying their chiringas (kites) at this very spot. It is truly a captivating scene.

But long before its family-friendly atmosphere, El Morro (also known as Castillo de San Felipe del Morro) was the scene of many an intense battle. Its troops fended off numerous attacks including one by none other than Sir Francis Drake.

Standing in the main plaza, I could imagine the cannon shots echoing through the air, the flurry of activity in what at that moment was a tranquil, pretty place.

Past the arches of the main plaza, along the sea, it was easier to picture the commotion that would occur in the thick of battle.

And though it was the scene of battles past, I could not help being taken by the beauty of the architecture, of the design....

....and by the rugged beauty of the coastline below.

I did not take a formal tour, but being a history nerd, I loved reading about the history of the place. "Financed by the Treasury of Mexico" (wonder what the terms were) and "Dysentery Among His Troops Forces Him to Abandon Puerto Rico" (what a terrible way to go) stood out.

But perhaps my favorite sign was this one on How to Fire a Cannon. Notice it is bilingual (both Spanish and English) and that the last line is "Pray to Santa Barbara, Patroness of Artillerymen, as often as desired to insure the safety of the gun crew."

It was conveniently located next to a cannon....

....and next to all of the equipment necessary to ready a cannon!

I'm not quite sure what the thinking behind putting all of the equipment within easy access along with the instructions (complete with diagrams) on how to use them was, but I got a kick out of it.

In the end, what I will remember most, however, is the impressive architecture, the stunning natural backdrop and the fluttering of kites above the rolling grass with the bright blue sea beyond.

El Morro is a truly magical place and for any visitors to San Juan, Puerto Rico, a definite must-see!