Home #WHERETONEXT Caribbean Celebrate the 500th Anniversary of San Juan

Celebrate the 500th Anniversary of San Juan

The oldest city in the United States marks the milestone this September with special activities and events that will last through June of 2022

Photo by Stephanie Klepacki

Discover Puerto Rico, the Island’s non-profit Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), is excited to partner with the city of San Juan for its 500th year celebration. Through June 2022, events across the city will mark this momentous milestone with concerts, festivals, tours and much more. Visitors can refer to a dedicated section of Discover Puerto Rico’s website for updates on the exciting calendar of events.

For 500 years, the blue cobblestone streets of the walled city have hidden countless stories and mysteries. Visiting Old San Juan is a feast for history buffs and explorers alike, with impressive fortifications, towering walls, open plazas, and hidden patios that are just the ticket to travel in time. Built by the Spaniards, this historical gem is the oldest city in the United States and its territories, and the second oldest city in the Americas.

“Puerto Rico is a melting pot of cultures, and nothing better exemplifies that than Old San Juan,” said Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico. “Through its 500 years, the city tells the story of an evolving and resilient people. Even today, visitors can feel the history of the city come to life through its historic landmarks. San Juan is a must see for every visitor to the Island, and the perfect launching point for a Puerto Rican vacation.”

Structures, objects, monuments, and landmarks hold traces of the past frozen in time. Old San Juan has five centuries of history and it still holds the magic and charm of yesteryear – attracting visitors worldwide. As a part of the celebration, the Museum of San Juan inaugurated two special exhibits: ‘Image, Art and Devotion: San Juan 500 Years’ and ‘The City in Time: Five Centuries of Artistic Representation of San Juan’. The city also created a new walking tour of Old San Juan that allows visitors to travel back to the 16th century and visit the most emblematic places of the oldest city in the United States and its territories. The two-and-a-half-hour tour will take groups up to 20 people beginning at 9:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. respectively. Additional events will be announced throughout the year, and festivities will include Puerto Rico’s longest Christmas celebration, a “Welcome to 2022” event, the San Sebastián Street festival in January 2022, and a regatta in the summer of 2022 to close the festivities.

“We are honored to have Discover Puerto Rico as a partner of the extraordinary celebration that is the Fifth Centenary of San Juan Bautista. These exciting times are the perfect reason to visit the historic and vibrant City of San Juan. I am sure that you will feel more than welcome and, while enjoying your stay, you will have a chance to walk around the old cities’ cobblestoned streets, savor our cuisine and fall in love with our culture, folklore, art, architecture, festival and, most important, our people” said Miguel Romero Lugo, Mayor of San Juan. “Come visit us at any time during this year-long event and, if you haven’t made arrangements yet, I suggest you don’t miss “the longest Christmas celebrations of Puerto Rico”, the “Welcome to the year 2022” nor the world-renowned “Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián” and the Old San Juan Regatta, which will constitute the grand finale of this historic celebration” he added.

Puerto Rico has one of the highest vaccination rates in the United States and its territories. As of September 14th, 84.6% of eligible residents have at least one dose and 74% are fully vaccinated. As the Island continues to encourage travelers to follow local safety measures, it is recommended that visitors check Travel Guidelines for the most updated entry requirements and protocols in place. For more information about Puerto Rico and things to know ahead of time as you plan to book, visit DiscoverPuertoRico.com.