Called "La Ciudad Amurallada," (The Wall City), San Juan was founded in 1521. In 1508 Juan Ponce de León founded the original settlement, Caparra, behind the almost landlocked harbor just to the west of the present metropolitan area. The settlement was abandoned and moved to the site of what is now called Old San Juan. San Juan is one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean and is the second oldest city in the Americas.
Our program includes a walking tour of Old San Juan, guided by a Puerto Rican architect. Old San Juan’s historic architecture reflects four centuries of development that shaped the historic urban landscape. Today, it is the nation’s most complete Spanish urban center with its Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. These styles of architecture create a sense of drama and authority with their beautifully detailed ornamentation, arches, and domes.
The exploration of the visual arts in Puerto Rico will be through a lecture and visits to two museums in San Juan. In Puerto Rico, visual art stands as one of the most significant defining expressions of the island’s culture. The unique characteristics and accents of Puerto Rican art offer insight into a highly complex society which can be viewed from a range of political, social and economic perspectives. The island’s artists, who serve as both witnesses and active participants, use art to express their own vision of reality and to communicate and explore the very essence of their being.
Old San Juan is the historic district of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. Being part of the National Historic Site, as recognized by the United Nations, Old San Juan is considered to be the Goddess of the Sea and the Queen of the Palm Trees.
Our visit to the City of Ponce will expand our understanding of Puerto Rican history and culture when we explore its unique architecture and arts.
With a population of 194,636, Ponce is Puerto Rico's second largest city. Ponce is commonly known by several names: La Perla del Sur(Pearl of the South), La Ciudad de los Leones(City of Lions), or La Ciudad de las Quenepas(Genip City). Ponce is also known as the "Ciudad Señorial" (Majestic or Noble City), because of its many beautiful neoclassical buildings and facades. Ponce was founded in 1692 by Juan Ponce de León's great-grandson - Loíza Ponce de León. Ponce was Spain's capital of the southern region until it fell to the U.S. in 1898.
In Ponce we will visit the Ponce Museum collection that includes European, Pre-Raphaelite, and Caribbean paintings followed by a city tour that unveils an enchanting portrait of colonial history, architecture and culture. Our Ponce tour will conclude with a guided visit to the Serrallés Castle, former estate of the wealthy Serralles family, which were sugar industry barons and the owners of Don Q rum. The house is not so much a castle as a large Spanish-Revival style home, but due to its size and expense is referred to as a castle.
he unique characteristics and accents of Puerto Rican art offer insight into a highly complex society which can be viewed from a range of political, social and economic perspectives.
The island’s artists, who serve as both witnesses and active participants, use art to express their own vision of reality and to communicate and explore the very essence of their being.
The city of Ponce, Puerto Rico, is filled with impressive historic architecture, from the historic city center to modern creations like the gigantic cross that overlooks the city. LatinFlyer.com has created a slide show highlighting some of the city's most interesting architectural sites, from the early 19th-century Ponce Cathedral to the 20th-century Ponce Art Museum.
The Arts in Cuban Culture component of the program provides a unique opportunity for participants to learn about architecture, dance, visual arts and day-to-day life in Cuba through lectures and guided visits.
Founded about 1519 on Cuba’s north-western shore, Old Havana has maintained a remarkable unity of character through its adherence to its original urban layout. Urban plazas surrounded by many buildings of outstanding architectural merit and narrow streets lined with more popular or traditional styles permeate the historic centre of the city. Its overall sense of architectural, historical and environmental continuity makes it the most impressive historical city centre in the Caribbean and one of the most notable in the American continent as a whole. With the establishment and development of the fleet system in the Spanish West Indies, Havana in the second half of the 16th century became the largest port in the region, and in the 18th century developed the most complete dockyard in the New World, both of which necessitated military protection. The extensive network of defensive installations that was created between the 16th and 19thcenturies includes some of the oldest and largest stone fortifications now standing in the Americas.
UNESCO, Old Havana and Its Fortification System
Precursor and maximum exponent of the "fusion" style, List Alfonso shows an original and virtuoso repertoire, recognized by the public and critics as "unique and different". Founded 25 years ago by its creator, director and choreographer, Lizt Alfonso, it has conquered audiences of all ages in the five continents, performing in hundreds of cities with the strength and rythm of the Cuba that vibrates today.
Salsa is primarily Cuban son, itself a fusion of Spanish canción and guitar and Afro-Cuban percussion, merged with North American music styles such as jazz.
Program Activity Level - Moderate
Our program requires moderate physical activity combined with travel time in bus (max 2 hours). Activities include city-walking tours (sometimes on uneven surfaces), stopping along the way, standing in museums for a few hours, walking a flight of stairs and strolling up/down hills. Participants should also be comfortable walking about 2.5 miles (10,000 steps)
Our hub airportto start the tour will be the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport.
DAY 1 - Wednesday – HOLA Puerto Rico¡
DAY 2 – Thursday - OLD SAN JUAN ARCHITECTURE
During our first day in Puerto Rico our Program Leaders and a Puerto Rican architect will lead a full day walking tour through the narrow streets of Old San Juan to experience five centuries of Spanish Caribbean history. We will become acquainted with significant architectural features of the city, historical sites, forts, plazas, cultural centers, fountains, museums, and galleries and with Old San Juan lively people's cultural life and idiosyncrasy.
DAY 3 – Friday - PUERTO RICAN ART
To start the exploration of visual arts in Puerto Rico will visit the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico, a modern five-story structure in a 1920 neo-classic building. The Museum supports Puerto Rico's 500 years old tradition in painting, sculpture, graphics, ceramics, folk art, photography and other contemporary media. After lunch we will have a free afternoon for optional tours.
DAY 4 – Saturday - THE CITY OF PONCE
A unique perspective of Puerto Rican architecture and art will be provided when we visit the colonial City of Ponce, second largest city in Puerto Rico. The visit will start with a guided visit to the Ponce Museum of Art, the largest art museum in the Caribbean.
The Ponce Museum collection includes European, Pre-Raphaelite, and Caribbean paintings. The excellence of the museum’s offerings is illustrated by paintings from different schools, as, for example, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s Immaculate Conception, 1660-1678, and Jacopo di Cione’s Annunciation, c. 1375-1380. Murillo’s painting exemplifies the caliber of the museum’s holdings from the Spanish Golden Age, while di Cione’s represents one of the fifteen paintings, mostly Italian, from the Kress Foundation that were added to the growing collection in 1962.
After lunch we will have a city tour that unveils an enchanting portrait of colonial history, architecture, and culture. The architectural splendor and detailed neoclassic and art deco style of the city makes Ponce an essential part in our itinerary. The city’s buildings such as the 19thcentury Fire Station and La Perla Theater, demonstrate more than 300 years of an elegant tradition. To conclude we will visit the Serrallés Castle, former estate of the wealthy Serralles family, which were sugar industry barons and the owners of Don Q rum. The house is not so much a castle as a large Spanish-Revival style home, but due to its size and expense is referred to as a castle.
The house was designed by Puerto Rican architect Don Pedro Adolfo de Castro and Besosa and built in the 1930's. Inside, you can see many original details of the house including original furniture and paintings. The surrounding grounds contain sculptured bushes and gardens as well as a reflection pool. From the terrace on the roof, you can get great views of the city. It also has a museum, a cafe, and a theater.
DAY 5 - Sunday - PUERTO RICAN CONTEMPORARY ART
To conclude our journey In San Juan we will get a glance at contemporary arts visiting the Puerto Rican Contemporary Art Museum. Founded in 1984, the Puerto Rican Museum of Contemporary Art was the result of collaboration between a number of generous artists and the civil society. Those involved decided to form a non-profit institution whereby local artists could display their art and the public could be exposed to a variety of art forms and contemporary art expressions. Known locally as the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MAC), all the art collected by the museum officially belongs to the people of Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican Museum serves not only to educate but also to preserve and document art from Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Latin America from 1940 to the present. Our farewell dinner will include a flamenco dance show.
DAY 6 – Monday HASTA LUEGO PUERTO RICO¡
Our flight to Havana from Miami, Florida will take one hour. Once in Havana, we will be on our way to our B&B to drop off our luggage. Next we will have a panoramic visit to the city and have lunch in Old Havana. After lunch, we head back to our B&B to complete check-in. You will have time to relax before we will gather for a welcome dinner.
DAY 7 - COLONIAL ARCHITECTURE AND VISUAL ARTS
After breakfast, a Cuban architect will deliver a walking visit about architectural restoration projects in Old Havana. The guided visit will describe restoration efforts in three plazas. You will learn about Old Havana as a unique urban development project that integrates community and economic development with art. Meetings with owners of art related businesses in Old Havana will provide an understanding of the emerging Cuban entrepreneur and the challenges faced by independent artists. In Cathedral Square we will visit the Experimental Graphic Workshop (printmaking) to meet Cuban artists. After lunch we will visit The House of Artists to meet established artists in their private studios.
DAY 8 – REPUBLICAN ARCHITECTURE AND DANCE
Our day will begin with a walking visit-lecture with a Cuban architect to learn about the architectural restoration efforts in the area of Parque Central (Central Park). After lunch we will visit List Alfonso Dance Company for a private dance presentation and conversation with dancers and company administrators. Our visits and contribution to dance companies in Havana will support their community education programs.
DAY 9 – VISUAL ARTS AND MUSIC
After breakfast at our B&B we will meet with an independent Cuban art curator-historian for a lecture about contemporary Cuban art. Our lecturer will facilitate a conversation about the most interesting developments in Cuban contemporary arts as these relate to a more general state of affairs in Cuban society during the last decades. The lecture will be followed by a visit to a private art studio. After lunch we will attend a meeting with a group of Cuban professionals who will exchange ideas about Cuban today with the group.
In the evening, we will have dinner and visit the Cuban Arts Factory. FAC is the initiative of renowned Cuban musician X-Alfonso. The groundbreaking project uses nightlife as a platform for numerous cultural activities, art exhibits, performances, jazz concerts, even a film screening—all in the same venue on the same night. Here we will have a private meeting with artists exhibiting their work and meet community members participating in workshops provided by FAC.
DAY 10 – VISUAL ARTS AND DANCE
Our last day in Havana will start with a visit to a private art studio. After lunch will visit another Cuban Dance Company for a demonstration and conversation with dancers and administrators. In the evening we will enjoy a farewell dinner.
DAY 11 - DEPART - HASTA LUEGO CUBA!