Exploring the Historical Sites of Puerto Rico

Puerto RicoThe Caribbean island of Puerto Rico has a long and fascinating history. Because it is located right in the middle of the “New World” it has been a target of conquest for many centuries.

Christopher Columbus landed on the island in 1493, on his second voyage of discovery. It was later settled by the Spanish explorer known as Ponce de Leon and was under possession by the Spanish for over 400 years.

At the end of the Spanish American war, the island of Puerto Rico became United States territory due to the Treaty of Paris.

There are many battlements and fortifications throughout Puerto Rico, built to protect the island from its many invaders.

These are very interesting places on the island that reveal fascinating stories about the past. Here are some of the best historical sites:

 Castillo de San Cristobal

This Spanish fort is the largest ever fortification built by the Spanish in the New World. It was constructed in 1783 to protect the city of San Juan from attacks, and it covers approximately 27 acres of land wrapping all around the city of San Juan.

The fortress is perched upon a hill called the Cerro de San Cristobal, named after the Spanish victory ejecting the English and the Dutch interlopers from the island of the same name in the Lesser Antilles.

This fort is truly an amazing historical building to explore, and includes an extensive underground tunnel system, an artillery observation post, and real 200 pound mortar shells.

Fort San Felipe del Morro

Also known as Morro Castle, this is a 16th century citadel that makes a great day trip from any Puerto Rico resort as it is located just within the city of San Juan. 

The fortification, named after King Phillip of Spain, was designed to guard the city of San Juan from enemy attacks from the sea. Over two million people per year visit this historical site, making it one of the major attractions in Puerto Rico.

The castle is considered an official UNESCO World Heritage Site and as a “must-see” while you are in Puerto Rico.

Fortin San Juan de la Cruz

Fortin San Juan de la CruzThis tiny fort is not as large as the other historical sites, but it is just as interesting. It is located on Isla de Cabras, right at the entrance to the San Juan bay.

It was placed here to create a strategic location for crossfire at any invading ships, and its location ensured complete artillery coverage of the area.

Apparently, there used to be a long chain which was stretched from Fortin San Juan de la Cruz to the Fort San Felipe del Morro, which would create a physical barrier and stop ships from coming into the harbor.

The fort was also in an important location for guarding the Bayamon River. The square building was built in the 1600s and although the interior is closed to the public you can walk around the walls.

These are just a few of the fascinating historical sites that you can visit while exploring the beautiful island of Puerto Rico.  

So What Really Happened On Leap Year?

Leap YearSo 2012 is a leap year with 366 days instead of the normal 365.  But do you know why?

The ancient Egyptians figured out that the solar year and the man-made calendar year didn’t match up perfectly. 

It’s all caused by the time that it takes the Earth to revolve around the sun – 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds to be exact. (Ever wonder who was manning the stopwatch for that one?) 

Therefore, the extra hours and change have to be carried over and every 4 years an extra day was added to the calendar to keep it all even.  Interestingly, there are a number of other intricate rules that they use in the calculation.

So What Has Happened on Leap Years Past?

Well, quite a few interesting things, actually:

1288 – Scotland’s Queen Margaret declared that a woman had the right to pop the question to any man she wished and if rebuffed, the man would be forced to pay a fine to the fair lady.

1504 – Christopher Columbus uses his knowledge of a lunar eclipse that night to convince Native Americans to provide him with supplies.

1704 – Queen Anne’s War: French forces and Native Americans stage a raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts, killing 56 villagers and taking more than 100 captive.

1916 – Child labor: In South Carolina, the minimum working age for factory, mill, and mine workers is raised from twelve to fourteen years old.

1944 – World War II: The Admiralty Islands are invaded in Operation Brewer led by American General Douglas MacArthur.

1972 – Hank Aaron becomes the first player in the history of Major League Baseball to sign a $200,000 contract.

1992 – Mr. Big hit it big this day, moving to #1 with, “To Be with You”. It would be the biggest hit in the U.S. for three big weeks.

Now isn’t it refreshing to know all of those things happened on leap year in the past?

What important news will happen today?  Feel free to make a prediction or share an event!





What Color Are Your Underwear? Strange New Years Eve Traditions from Around the World

Your family might have an unusual or funny tradition that you enjoy every New Year’s Eve, such as cooking a certain dish or watching a particular movie, or perhaps you like to go to a party with your friends and tie one on until the sun comes up.New Years Party noisemakers

However, how do your local festivities compare to these strange New Year’s traditions from around the world?

Dangerous Danish Customs

In Denmark, the thing to do on the stroke of midnight is to climb up on the nearest chair and leap off into the air. It is believed that this will banish bad spirits who are trying to follow you into the year ahead.

Just make sure that you are careful where you land or you could kick off the New Year with a broken bone.

Another destructive thing to do in Denmark on New Year’s Eve is to throw plates, glasses and other crockery at the front door of your best friend. This brings good luck, and the family who has the most broken dinnerware in front of their house is considered very lucky because they have the most loyal friends.

The Dead are the Life of the Party

Even if you are dead, you can still join in on the New Year’s Festivities in Chile. The people of Talca, Chile are known for celebrating the New Year in the cemetery with their deceased relatives.

They set up the graveyard with decorations and candles, and everyone socializes amidst the tombstones.

Love under the Mistletoe

In Ireland, unmarried women place the leaves of the mistletoe plant under their pillows because it helps them to attract the love of their life. They also believe that it will bring them good luck in the New Year.

Let Your Underwear Do the Talking

If you are celebrating the New Year in Brazil, Mexico, or Bolivia, you will want to put some thought into the color of your underpants. People here wear undergarments of particular colors on the last night of the year to signify what they wish for in the New Year.

For example, wearing unmentionables of red will bring an exciting love life, and yellow underpants grant the wearer economic prosperity.

These are just a few of the fun and unusual New Year’s Eve traditions that are celebrated around the world!