Old San Juan and Ponce:

A Panoramic View of the Arts in Puerto Rican Culture


December 9-14, 2019 / January 2-7, 2020
Reservation Deadline – August 15, 2019

This program will provide a panoramic view of architecture, visual arts, music and dance in the vibrant and rich culture of Old San Juan and the City of Ponce in Puerto Rico. 

In Old San Juan

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.   

During our first day our Program Leader 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.

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. 

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.

In Ponce: ”The Pearl of the Caribbean”

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 calibre 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.

During afternoons and evening you will have the option of guided tours on your own to different sites in San Juan. Restaurants for meals and night entertainment sites will be recommended.


  • Five nights accommodations at hotel in Old San Juan (see Hotels in Puerto Rico)
  • Continental buffet breakfasts
  • Welcome and farewell dinners
  • Ground transportation and drivers’ tips
  • Guided walking tour of Old San Juan with Puerto Rican architect
  • Full day tour to the City of Ponce
  • Guided visits to museums in itinerary and El Morro and Serralles Castles
  • Reading and websites suggestions to learn about PR before departure
  • Online orientation meeting before departure


  • Airfare to/from San Juan 
  • Transportation from/to San Juan International Airport 
  • Meals: 4-L, 3- D 
  • Gratuities for maid and bellman 
  • Trip interruption and cancellation insurance 
  • Optional tours 

$ 3100 single room 
$ 2800 per person in a double room



  • Arrive in Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico - CLICK TO VIEW
  • Transfer on your own to hotel
  • Check-in at hotel
  • Welcome Dinner
  • Information Meeting with Program Leader

DAY 2           

  • Breakfast 
  • Walking Tour of Old San Juan (Part 1)
  • Lunch 
  • Walking Tour of Old San Juan (Part 2) 
  • Dinner or optional tours

DAY 3             

  • Breakfast
  • Visit to the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico - CLICK TO VIEW
  • Transfer to hotel
  • Lunch
  • Walking Tour of Old San Juan (Part 3) 
  • Dinner or optional tours

DAY 4           

DAY 5           


  • Breakfast
  • Check-out 
  • Transfer on your own to airport​