Introducing Barranquitas & Around
One of the most quintessential of Puerto Rico’s lofty mountain towns, Barranquitas is a diminutive, picturesque settlement clinging to the muddy slopes of the rain-lashed Cordillera Central. Lying on the north side of the Cañón de San Cristóbal, about a 20-minute drive out of Aibonito on Hwy 162 (or an even shorter detour off of the Ruta Panorámica via Hwy 143), the town is known locally as the Cuna de Próceres (Cradle of Great People) for its historical propensity to produce poets, politicians and governors of national (and international) distinction. Most notable in this list is the legendary Muñoz clan, Puerto Rico’s substitute ‘royal’ family whose evocative mausoleum has made Barranquitas a pilgrimage site for both local patriots and curious visitors.
This is not, however, a fairy-tale village of architectural heirlooms. Hurricanes and fires have ravaged Barranquitas several times (the name translates to ‘Place of Little Mud Slides’), and the oldest structures, such as the church, date only from the early 20th century. Barranquitas’ charm lies in its narrow streets, tightly packed with shops and houses, which fall away into deep valleys on three sides of the plaza. Indeed, the view as you descend the mountain road into town and the afternoon sun sets the church tower ablaze above the dense architectural jumble of the central neighborhood, is truly memorable.