Paseo de la Princesa is San Juan’s famous promenade that dates from 1853. Known as one of the most scenic walkways in the world, it begins in Old San Juan as a palm-lined pedestrian street which is lined with craft stalls during the weekends.
The path continues past La Princesa, which once served as a prison, and leads towards Fuente Raices. The fountain was constructed in 1992 and takes its name from the Spanish word for ‘roots’. It was designed by architect Miguel Carlo to commemorate and celebrate the New World’s 500th anniversary and is now considered to be one of the most romantic spots in Old San Juan. The bronze statues honour Puerto Rico’s mixed Afrcan, Spanish and Taino/American heritage.
Past the fountain the walkway turns to the right, running along the outside of the city walls, which are lit up at night. In the corner a collection of bronze sculptures called ‘Crecimiento’ stand below the murallas, in the shade of the nearby trees. This creation, designed by Carmen Inés Blondet in 1996, represents affirmation of life. The shapes that appear to rise from the ground reflect their very existence. In their projecting force the sculptor intended to convey the idea that the fragility of growth is only an impression because what is truly important has to be eternal.
Further along, the promenade reaches the San Juan Gate, named for Saint John the Baptist. For centuries, this huge doorway kept invaders out of the city. Above the gate is the inscription “Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini”, meaning “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord”. At one time there were six gates in the city walls, however today this is the only one that remains. In colonial times, passenger ships would anchor away from the pier and smaller ships would bring the passengers ashore, where they would arrive at the San Juan Gate and walk up La Caleta de San Juan to San Juan Cathedral to thank God for a safe voyage.