The Wedgwood blue and white Santa Catalina Palace was built in 1533 and makes an impressive sight as you approach through a narrow Old San Juan street. While the building exudes an air of calm authority, it occupies a site that was long one of the most contested strategic positions in the Caribbean: La Fortaleza. And you can still see stone fortifications built by the Spanish, brooding above the waves.
La Fortaleza is today the Governor of Puerto Rico’s residence, and the oldest functioning executive mansion in the Western Hemisphere. Consequently, you can’t roam the building at will, but a tour will take you through the palace’s dungeon and chapel, as well as the lush gardens.
La Fortaleza is in the heart of Old San Juan. Nearby Fuerte San Cristóbal is another great place to explore San Juan’s centuries-old fortifications.