Pinch Me Places: Ponce de León Sites

One of the "Pinch me places" I've been thrilled and amazed to visit was earlier this year, when I got to see "Casa Blanca," the sprawling house built by Spanish explorer (and early governor of the region) Juan Ponce de León.
He built it in 1521--a date so close to the discovery of the Americas (and Ponce de León's own discovery of Florida) that it hardly seems possible--though he never lived in it. He died during an expedition to Florida while the structure was being built. It was, however, the residence of his descendants until the mid-eighteenth century. Today, Casa Blance  is a museum of sixteenth- and seventeenth century artifacts managed by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. It is one of the oldest buildings in Puerto Rico and is, of course, a cultural treasure.
Also on that trip was a quick visit to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on (appropriately enough) Calle del Cristo in the heart of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
It has been the final resting place of Juan Ponce de León since 1836, when his remains were transferred here from the nearby San Jose Church (which I also got to see, though only from the outside). The cathedral is considered one of the most important landmarks on the island of Puerto Rico. The original construction of straw and wood began in 1521, and (due to storms and fires) was repeatedly rebuilt over the years. The current structure dates to 1584.

Ponce de León has been a subject of study for me for some time, for various reasons. It was amazing to be able to see the home he built and his final resting place, 521 years after he sailed with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World, and 501 years after his discovery of (possibly) Florida.

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