Museo de las Americas and plaza, San Juan

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Cuartel de Ballajá

San Juan

Built in 1854 as a military barracks, the cuartel is an impressive three-story edifice with large gates on two ends, a series of arches and a large central courtyard. It was the last building constructed by the Spaniards in the New World. Facilities once included officers’ quarters, warehouses, kitchens, dining rooms, prison cells and stables; today it's home to several administrative offices, a dance studio, a music school, several cafes and the first-rate Museo de las Américas.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby San Juan attractions

1. Museo de las Américas

0.02 MILES

This museum presents an impressive overview of cultural development in the Americas, including indigenous, African and European influences. Four permanent…

2. Plaza del Quinto Centenario

0.05 MILES

This modern square is shoehorned in among several architectural landmarks and offers great views over El Morro and the ocean beyond. Built in 1992 to…

3. Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña

0.05 MILES

Constructed in the mid-19th century as a shelter for the poor, this bright-yellow building houses the executive offices of this institute that organizes a…

5. Casa Blanca


First constructed in 1521 as a residence for Puerto Rico’s pioneering governor, Juan Ponce de León (who died before he could move in), Casa Blanca is the…

6. Iglesia de San José


What it lacks in grandiosity it makes up for in age: the Iglesia de San José is the second-oldest church in the Americas, after the cathedral in Santo…

7. Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño

0.11 MILES

The grand edifice with a red-roofed dome, arches and porticos across from El Morro was an insane asylum during the 19th century; now it's a prestigious…

8. Plaza de San José

0.11 MILES

This small cobblestone plaza is dominated by a statue of Juan Ponce de León, cast from English cannons captured in the raid of 1797. It's a popular spot…