June 18, 2015

1676 UNITED STATES (Puerto Rico) - La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico (UNESCO WHS)

1676 San Jose - Castillo San Cristóbal

In 1508, Juan Ponce de León founded the settlement Caparra, which today is known as the Pueblo Viejo sector of Guaynabo. A year later, the settlement was moved to a site then called Puerto Rico (Rich Port), which in 1521 received the name San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico, in honor of John the Baptist. As a settlement of the Spanish Empire, it was used by merchant and military ships traveling from Spain as the first stopover in the Americas. Because of its prominence in the Caribbean, a network of fortifications was built to protect the transports of gold and silver from the New World to Europe. Because of the rich cargoes, San Juan became a target of the foreign powers of the time.

The defensive structures built between the 15th and 19th centuries to protect the city and the Bay of San Juan represent a fine display of European military architecture adapted to harbour sites on the American continent. The main elements of the fortification are La Fortaleza, the three forts of San Felipe del Morro, San Cristóbal and San Juan de la Cruz (El Cañuelo), and a large portion of the City Wall. The city itself, with its institutional buildings, museums, houses, churches, plazas and commercial buildings, is part of the San Juan Historic Zone.

Castillo San Cristóbal (Fort San Cristóbal) is the largest fortification built by the Spanish in the New World. When it was finished in 1783, it covered about 27 acres of land and basically wrapped around the city of San Juan. Entry to the city was sealed by San Cristóbal's double gates. After close to 100 years of relative peace, about a third of the fortification was demolished in 1897 to help ease the flow of traffic. This fortress was built on a hill originally known as the Cerro de la Horca or the Cerro del Quemadero, which was changed to Cerro de San Cristóbal in celebration of the Spanish victories ejecting English and Dutch interlopers from the island of this name, then forming part of the insular territorial glacis of Puerto Rico.

About the stamps
The first three stamps are part of the definitives series American Design (2002-2007), about which I wrote here. The fourth stamp is part of the series issued to mark the Batman’s 75th anniversary, about which I wrote here. The last stamp is  the eighth in the Celebrating Lunar New Year series, and was issued on February 7, 2015 to celebrate The Year of the Ram (19.02.2015-07.02.2016).

References
San Juan, Puerto Rico - Wikipedia
Castillo San Cristóbal - Wikipedia
La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico - UNESCO official website

Sender:
Sent from San Juan (Puerto Rico / United States), on 14.02.2015

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