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La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina

The official residence of the governor of Puerto Rico is a vast mansion and fortress that is open to the public on guided tours.

La Fortaleza, the governor’s residence, also known as the Palacio de Santa Catalina, is a cross between a medieval fortification and a royal palace. The striking blue building sits on the waterfront in Old San Juan, bordered by picturesque gardens. Join one of the guided tours around the palace to learn about the fascinating history of the site and to get a glimpse of the life of the governor of Puerto Rico. 

Marvel at the clash of military and royal architecture at La Fortaleza. It was built by the Spanish as a fortification between 1532 and 1540, as evidenced by the old walls and other features. UNESCO has recognized the fortress and other landmarks in Old San Juan for their historical value.

In 1845, the fortress was turned into a royal residence, leading to its current look and earning its second name, Palacio de Santa Catalina. The interiors were remodeled and it was given a palatial blue façade. Follow in the footsteps of 170 governors who have lived in the palace. Take plenty of photos of the classical Spanish-style palace. 

Explore the grounds of what is said to be the oldest executive mansion in the Western Hemisphere. Several detached buildings make up the whole palace, where you can see the old living quarters, a swimming pool and a courtyard. From the top of the palace, admire the views of the old city walls and the Bay of San Juan.

Roam the corridors of the palace, admiring the period furniture that still decorates each room. Look for the mahogany clock that comes with its own story. The last Spanish governor of Puerto Rico struck it with his sword upon hearing of the defeat of Spain. The time on its face has never changed since. 

The Palacio de Santa Catalina is located in western Old San Juan. Walk here along the Paseo de la Princesa, a scenic promenade, and explore the fortress for a minimal fee. Metered parking is available nearby. La Fortaleza is open on weekdays. If you want a guided tour, book it in advance.

Popular Activities at La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina

It's worth giving yourself loads of time at La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina. Below are some of the top things to do:

Your next epic adventure has been waiting for you! You may like to try an Old San Juan Deluxe Walking Tour or a Nicaragua One Day.

Check out our San Juan things to do page to discover more activities while you're in the area.


Guide to Exploring around La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina


Map

Best Lodging Options Near La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina

See all 659 Properties near La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina
CasaBlanca Hotel ¥11,419
CasaBlanca Hotel

CasaBlanca Hotel

316 Calle Fortaleza, San Juan
     
    3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    This family-friendly San Juan hotel is located on the Strip, within a 5-minute walk of Museo del Mar and Port of San Juan. San Juan Cathedral and La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina are also within 10 minutes.

    Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel ¥12,325
    Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel

    Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel

    100 Brumbaugh Street, San Juan
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in San Juan Antiguo, this hotel is steps from Pier 3, Port of San Juan, and Teatro Tapia. Pier 4 and Pier 1 are also within 5 minutes.

      Hotel El Convento ¥15,953
      Hotel El Convento

      Hotel El Convento

      100 Cristo St, San Juan
         
        4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in San Juan Antiguo, this luxury hotel is steps from Statue of Ponce de Leon, San Juan Cathedral, and San Juan Gate. Convento de Los Dominicos and La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina are also within 5 minutes.

        Hotel Plaza De Armas Old San Juan ¥8,512
        Hotel Plaza De Armas Old San Juan

        Hotel Plaza De Armas Old San Juan

        Viejo San Juan, San Jose St, 202, Btw San Francisco St and Fortaleza, San Juan
           
          2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in San Juan Antiguo, this hotel is steps from San Juan Cathedral and Paseo de la Princesa. La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina and Plaza de Armas are also within 5 minutes.

          Decanter Hotel ¥14,149
          Decanter Hotel

          Decanter Hotel

          106 Calle San José, Old San Juan, San Juan, PR
             
            3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in San Juan Antiguo, this hotel is steps from Statue of Ponce de Leon and San Juan Cathedral. San Juan Gate and La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina are also within 5 minutes.

            La Terraza de San Juan ¥13,839
            La Terraza de San Juan

            La Terraza de San Juan

            262 Calle del Sol, Viejo San Juan, San Juan
               
              3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in San Juan Antiguo, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Statue of Ponce de Leon and San Juan Cathedral. Convento de Los Dominicos and Castillo de San Cristobal are also within 10 minutes.

              Hotel Milano ¥8,780
              Hotel Milano

              Hotel Milano

              307 Fortaleza Street, San Juan
                 
                2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in San Juan Antiguo, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Pier 1, San Juan Cathedral, and La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina. San Juan Gate and Castillo de San Cristobal are also within 10 minutes.

                CIQALA Luxury Suites ¥12,996
                CIQALA Luxury Suites

                CIQALA Luxury Suites

                752 Manuel Fernandez Juncos Ave, San Juan
                   
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated in the historical district, this condo building is within a 15-minute walk of Nuestra Senora de Lourdes Chapel and Puerto Rico Convention Center. Condado Beach and Pan American Pier are also within 1 mi (2 km).