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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

Ensure you have plenty of time at La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina. Below are the top activities:

Your next big adventure is waiting for you! You might want to try an Old San Juan Deluxe Walking Tour or a Nicaragua One Day.

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


Guide to Exploring La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina


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Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel ¥17,804
Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel

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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 ¥20,518
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    Hotel El Convento

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      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.

      Decanter Hotel ¥11,619
      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.

        CasaBlanca Hotel ¥14,004
        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.

          La Terraza de San Juan ¥15,046
          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 Plaza De Armas Old San Juan ¥9,688
            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.

              Hotel Milano ¥8,818
              Hotel Milano

              Hotel Milano

              307 Fortaleza Street, San Juan
                 
                2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

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                Fortaleza Suites ¥8,696
                Fortaleza Suites

                Fortaleza Suites

                315 Calle Fortaleza, Old San Juan, San Juan
                   
                  3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in San Juan Antiguo, this apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of Museo del Mar, Port of San Juan, and San Juan Cathedral. La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina and San Juan Gate are also within 10 minutes.