Top 10 Picturesque Churches in Puerto Rico You Must Visit

April 15,

It is no secret that Puerto Rico is a popular tourist destination, and well know for its gorgeous beaches.  However, what is there to see beyond the beach, the rainforest and old San Juan?

One of the things that usually are overlooked are the churches and main squares of Puerto Rico’s cities and small towns.  Most of these churches are very old and have been beautifully preserved.  Furthermore, since they are located in areas where tourism is not seen at all, not only visitors can admire the beauty of the churches and picturesque plazas – and getting those colorful instagram-worthy shots, but also get immersed with the culture and get off the beaten path for a little bit.

My family is a huge fan of “turismo interno”-which essentially means exploring your own backyard. During many years, my mom organized group trips, sometimes with her friends, other times with a big family group, to explore the island.  Anybody who  knows my mom is aware that she is the real deal.  She planned those excursions better that any tour company out there.  Often times I went on these excursions and although at the time they seem pointless, now I am grateful because they made me appreciate the beautiful details that are taken for granted.

So, when I was coming up with a list of Churches to visit, I had to call her and say, “Mami, which are the churches in Puerto Rico people must visit?”.  She called out 3 without hesitation. With her input and my own experience, I came up with a list of 10.

Top 10 Picturesque Churches in Puerto Rico You Must Visit

Top 10 Churches you must visit in Puerto Rico

10.  San Antonio de Padua  – Barranquitas, P.R. (Mom’s Pick)

                       Oquendo from Freeport, NY, Barranquitas, CC BY 2.0

The town of Barranquitas is beautiful and the Church is no exception.  Constructed 1933 and renovated in 1988, San Antonio de Padua in Barranquitas makes my top 10 for many reasons.  The Church sits at the bottom of a hill, in front of the main plaza and surrounded by the friendly hills of the Central Mountains of Puerto Rico. Its interior is simple but with some great architectural features such as the San Antonio sculpture, created by a famous artist from Barranquitas, Rafael Lopez del Campo and colorful stained glass windows crafted in Venezuela.

How to get there
Barranquitas is approximately 38 miles from the San Juan International Airport.  From San Juan, the fastest route is via PR-152.   You will pass my hometown Naranjito on your way up – had to mention it.  Temperatures can be chilly during winter months but nothing that a light sweater will fix.  GPS Coordinates (18.1860, -66.3060)

Something Else to Check Out
An event that takes place  in July is La Feria de Artesanias de Barranquitas.  Artesanias stands for hand-crafted goods, and let me tell you, in this fair you will find the most beautiful and unique items crafted by artist from all over the island.  Besides great shopping, they also have music and delicious food stands.  If you are visiting during July, this is a very special event to go.

What To Eat While There
Why not stop by Kamilas Bakery and have a delicious cup of coffee and pastries while enjoying a view of the mountains at Barranquitas.  Check out their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/kbbarranquitas/

9. Basilica Menor de la Virgen de Monserrate- Hormigueros, P.R.


Constructed in 1590 by Giraldo Gonzalez, this basilica makes my list because of its historic value as well as its unique location.  It sits at the top of a hill in Hormigueros and can bee seen from many places in town.  The journey going up the steps is very quaint and worth the effort.  Inside, this church is small but elegant.

How To Get There
It is located in the town of  Hormigueros, in the western region of the island, northeast of Cabo Rojo and south of the City of Mayaguez.  GPS Coordinates (18.140676-67.127164)

Something else To Check Out
Casa Marquez, as known as Hacienda Valentina – a charming old residence from the early 19th century.  Although is a private residence, it can be spotted from the corner of Segundo Ruiz Belvis with Mateo Fajardo Street.

What To Eat While There
Stop by Panaderia La Monserrate and try a Donalado, a cone-shaped doughnut filled with ice-cream.  Check out the video below, it will make you crave one.

8. Santuario Schoenstatt – Cabo Rojo, P.R.

Jerjes Medina Albino (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Santuario_Schoenstatt,_Cabo_Rojo.jpg), „Santuario Schoenstatt, Cabo Rojo“, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode

Schoenstatt stands for “beautiful place” in German.  This charming little church is a replica of the original church of the Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt in Germany.  I love this church not only because of it’s unique look, but its grounds are equally beautiful.  It is located at a hilltop and has a great view of the ocean.

How To Get There
The church is located in the Town on Cabo Rojo off of Carr 100 at km 5.3.  GPS Coordinates (18.1079,-67.1664)

What To Eat While There                                    
What is a trip to Cabo Rojo without eating some delicious seafood at one of the restaurants in Joyuda, only a 10 minute drive from the church.  GPS Coordinates (18.1169, -67.183)

7.  Parroquia San José – Aibonito, P.R.

Constructed in 1897 and designed by Pedro Cobreras, this church makes my list because of its beautiful Spanish Colonial Architecture. Located at Emeterio Betances Street, in the central town of Aibonito, this Church was added to the National Register of Historic Park Service in 1984.

How To Get There
The town of Aibonito is located in the central region of Puerto Rico at an elevation of 2,400 ft above sea Level.  With average temperatures of 75 degrees F, it is perfect to visit and walk around comfortably.  At night, make sure to pack a light jacket since temperatures can go as low as 60 degrees F.  GPS Coordinates (18.1388, -66.2665)

 

 

 

Something Else to Check Out
Check out the puertorican flag painted at the corner of one of Aibonito’s oldest buildings near the town’s main square.  It is very picturesque.  Lots of picture opportunities.

What to Eat While There
If you are just looking for a quick snack, visit Hector Figueroa’s “piragua” stand for a refreshing shaved ice cone.  Also, taste the delicious artisan bread from Panaderia La Esperanza.
Looking for more filling meal? Head to Picadera at Calle San Jose for great food and drinks-Mojitos anyone?

 

6. Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria – Mayagüez, P.R.

Todd Van Hoosear (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cathedral_from_Plaza_Colón_-_Mayagüez_Puerto_Rico.jpg), „Cathedral from Plaza Colón – Mayagüez Puerto Rico“, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

I lived 5 years in the City of Mayagüez and I can assure you, this church is beautiful.  It was built in 1763 and its latest renovation was finished in 2004.  Beautiful inside and out, this church has that old Spanish Colonial charm worth a thousand pictures.  Not only that, there is so much history about this church.  Don Eugenio Maria de Hostos was baptized in the church and Jose de Diego held his wedding ceremony there.

How To Get There
The Cathedral is located in the Plaza Colón at the heart of Mayagüez.   GPS Coordinates (18.2011, -67.13829)

Something Else To Check Out
Take a stroll around the square – Plaza Colón, surrounded by many historic buildings including the “Alcaldía”- Mayaguez City Hall.  Also check out the Columbus Statue, made in Barcelona in 1843.

What To Eat While There?
For a quick cold snack head over to REX Cream at Calle Mendez Vigo #60 E.  Rex Cream is a classical ice-cream shop established in the heart of Mayagüez for more than 50 years.  One of their famous flavors is corn –  I know, it sounds weird, but is really good.

5.  Catedral Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe – Ponce, P.R.

This beautiful cathedral opened for worship in 1839 and was  re-constructed in 1937. The exterior style is Neoclassical with beautiful pale blue and gray color, while the interior is blue and beige, mostly gothic and colonial style  The City of Ponce has so much to explore, thus the Cathedral is a must see when you visit town.

How To Get There
Ponce’s Cathedral is located at Plaza Las Delicias, Ponce’s main square.  Ponce is a City in the southern region of Puerto Rico and the most populated city outside of the San Juan metropolitan Area.  GPS Coordinates(18.0120, -66.6141).

Something Else to Check Out

Ian Poellet (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parque_de_Bombas_-_Ponce_Puerto_Rico.jpg), https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

Almost certainly, the most iconic building of Ponce is Museo Parque de Bombas, located behind the Cathedral.  This used to be the city’s main firehouse and Puerto Rico’s first fire station.

What To Eat While There
Sweet bread from Panaderia San Agustín,  located at the corner of Salud and Campos Streets.  One of the best sweet breads in Ponce, just a 10 minute walk from the Cathedral.

 

 

4.  Catedral Metropolitana Basilica de San Juan Bautista – San Juan, P.R.

This is one of my absolute favorites because of its prime location and also how beautiful is inside.  Built in 1540, with its latest remodel in 1917, the San Juan Cathedral is a must visit landmark in Old San Juan.  It is the oldest Cathedral in the United States.  When you visit, take your time to go inside and walk around to admire the decorated ceilings, stained-glass windows and the resting place of Juan Ponce de León.

How To Get There
Probably the easiest to get to since it located in the heart of Old San Juan at 151 Calle del Cristo .  Once you are in the historic area, it is very hard to miss.

Something Else to Check Out
Well, Old San Juan is full of landmarks to explore.  I would say check out El Convento, a boutique hotel that used to be a convent.  It is a truly beautiful hotel and a great place to sit down and have a nice cold drink.

What To Eat While There
Again, Old San Juan has endless food options.  I personally love getting a nice cup of traditional hot chocolate at Casa Cortes Chocobar, located at 210 Calle San Francisco.

3.  San Germán de Auxerre – San Germán, P.R.

This one is one of my favorites.  I love San Germán and its stunning historic district.  Also, my husband grew up in San Germán,  which makes me a little biased.  Built in 1688 and renovated in 1920, San Germán de Auxerre is one of the most beautiful churches in the Island.  This one in particular is famous for its intricate interior design, although the church is extremely photogenic inside and out.

How To Get There
San Germán is a municipality located in the southwestern region of Puerto Rico, south of Mayagüez, north of Lajas and east of Cabo Rojo. The church is located in front of San German’s main plaza in the town’s historic district.  GPS Coordinates (18.0824, -67.0439)

 

Something Else to Check Out
Check out my No. 2 Church below!

What To Eat While There
About a 5 minute walk from the church, they sell the famous “rellenitos de papa” at La Casa de Los Rellenitos. A rellenito de Papa is a delicious mashed potato ball stuffed with beef and deep fried.  You don’t wan to miss this, it is delicious.  GPS Coordinates (18.0831, -67.0406)

2. Porta Coeli – San Germán, P.R. (Mom’s Pick)

By Jmoliver (en.wiki) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Formally known as El Convento de Santo Domingo de Porta Coeli, it is probably the most famous historic church in the island and the most famous landmark in San Germán.  The church is one of the oldest in the americas, originally built in 1609 but now a religious museum.  Its style is Spanish Romanesque with rubble masonry and stucco surfaced walls.  Climb the steps and take lots of pictures.  This church is a true gem!

How to get there
The Church is located in San Germán, at the corner of Ramas and Dr. Santiago Veve Streets.  It is also a few blocks away from San Germán de Auxerre Church.  GPS Coordinates (18.0820, -67.0411)

Something else to check out
The San German Historic District, mostly bounded by Luna, Estrella, Concepción, Javilla, and Ferrocarril Streets,  has numerous unique buildings, including stunning homes like Casa Morales, a victorian-era house built soon after the American occupation in 1898.  Take a stroll around the block and spot them out.

What to eat while there
If you want to eat where the locals go,  head over to Cafeteria Pollo Frito for the best fried chicken in town.  This place is famous among the locals and has been in business for ever! Pollo Frito is located downtown at Avenida Universidad Interamericana, just a 2 minute walk from Porta Coeli.

1. San Antonio de Padua – Guayama, P.R. (Mom’s Pic)

By Edwin Sánchez Velázquez (https://www.facebook.com/sanchezV49/)

An then my number one!  This church is my Mom’s personal favorite.  A very photogenic church in Neo-romantisicm style that is totally worth the visit.   It is without a doubt a beautiful church .  Some cool facts about it – its clock was made in Switzerland and the bells made in Germany.  It also has a painted clock marking the 11:30 hour, which represents the time when the church got baptized.

How To Get There
Located in the town of Guayama, the church is very easy to get to and relatively close to San Juan.  GPS Coordinates (17.9851, -66.1124)

Something Else To Check Out
Museo Casa Cautiño  – a very beautiful historic house at the junction of Vicente Pales and Palmer Streets.  The house used to serve as the headquarters of the American Forces and is now a museum.  Lots of picture opportunities there!

 

What To Eat While There
Head out to barrio Pozuelo and look for the biggest Alcapurrias in the island, Alcapurrias Anacondas at El Fogon de Suza.  They come stuffed with beef or crab and by the look of them you can easily feed a family with just one.

There you have  it! the  Top 10 Picturesque Churches in Puerto Rico.  Have you visited? If so, do you agree with my picks? Comment below which one of your favorites didn’t make it.

Until Later and Happy Travels,

Meli

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *