Iglesia de Porta Coeli

Top choice in Puerto Rico

This small, squat building might not look like much from the outside, but it is actually one of the oldest surviving ecclesial buildings in the Americas. Originally constructed between 1606 and 1607 on the orders of Queen Isabella of Spain, it served as the chapel for a Dominican monastery that stood on this site until the 1860s. Atop a long, steep flight of brick steps overlooking Plaza Santo Domingo, the current structure dates from 1692.

The Porta Coeli has an interior with ausubo wood pillars and roof beams, and a ceiling made from palm wood, which is typical of construction in Puerto Rico during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Inside, a small museum displays statues of the black Virgin of Montserrat, folksy carvings of Christ imported from the early days of San Juan, choral books dating back 300 years and other random curios.

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