Cities Of Puerto Rico - Ponce
The Pearl of the South
"Ponce is Ponce" is a famous saying that involves pride, history and tradition. Named after Juan Ponce de León, the Island’s first governor, the city was founded in 1692 by Ponce de León’s great-grandson. Today Ponce is the second largest city on the Island and a major contributor to the political, social, economic, and cultural development of Puerto Rico. Ponce is known as "La Perla del Sur" (the Pearl of the South) and the "Ciudad Señorial" (the Noble City) because of its beautiful facades, neoclassical architecture and European touch.
Ponce is strategically located in the Cordillera Central foothills, to the west of the Llano Costanero del Sur (South Plain Coast), facing the Caribbean Sea and approximately in the center of the south coast. In its early days, this strategic location acted as a magnet for immigrants. People from England, France, Italy, Germany and Spain came to develop an international city that to this day maintains its rich African heritage. The African personality, beliefs and music add colorful flavor and rhythm to Ponce's culture. Part of this is the bomba and plena rhythms, a combination of African and Caribbean musical influence.
The historic, beautiful downtown Plaza is a must-see, with lovely fountains and the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Guadalupe. Behind the cathedral is the red and black, century-old wooden firehouse, Parque de Bombas. This unique firehouse is open to the public, with exhibits on the second floor.
Free transportation operating out of the historic plaza includes trolley tours through the historic zone (daily), horse & carriage rides (weekends only) and the Chu-Chu Train with tours to Paseo Tablado La Guancha (the boardwalk across from the Ponce Yacht and Fishing Club).
For an incredible vista of how the mountains meet the sea at Ponce, drive to the summit of El Vigía Hill, where scouts once scanned for attacking ships. Visitors can ascend La Cruz del Vigía, a 100-foot observation tower. Nearby is the Castillo Serrallés, which is a magnificent example of the Spanish revival architecture popular in the 1920s.
You might also investigate the world-class Museo de Arte de Ponce, with the finest collection of European art in the Caribbean as well as important Puerto Rican works.
Just out of Ponce, the Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Tibes is the site of the oldest cemetery uncovered to date in the Antilles. This ancient Indian site includes seven bateyes (ball fields), dance grounds, a pre-Columbian astronomical observatory and a reconstructed Taíno village.
On route 123 from Ponce to Adjuntas is the Hacienda Buena Vista (by reservation only). This coffee plantation was built in 1833 and restored to its original condition by the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico.