The name of Barranquitas stems from the ravines created by the rainfall in this mountainous town located in the heart of Puerto Rico. This municipality founded in 1803 is often called “Cuna de Próceres,” since many leading patriotic figures in the island’s recent history have been born here.
Of all barranquiteño heroes Luis Muñoz Rivera is without a doubt one of the most notable. He first became a member of the Autonomist Party in 1887, seeking political independence from Spain. He then served in Puerto Rico’s short-lived independent government, but then within the year (1898) United States troops invaded the island as part of the Spanish-American War. As member of the Unionist Party, he spearheaded a campaign in the US Congress for equal rights for Puerto Ricans. His house in Barranquitas is now a historical museum where visitors can learn about the generations of politicians in this family.
The town plaza, newly-designed for its bicentennial with four water fountains, is quite a magnificent sight. Exploring the town one finds other unique museums and historical locales, such as a small Museo de Arte y Antropología, which houses Puerto Rican art from pre- and post-colonial periods. There is also the church named in honor of patron saint San Antonio de Padua.
Barranquitas shares with Aibonito the impressive Cañón San Cristóbal, one of the deepest canyons in the islands of the Caribbean. A recreational area in the mountains called La Ceiba offers pools, hiking trails, and rental cabins for overnight stays within nature.
There is, however, for many locals one very important reason to flock to Barranquitas: its Feria Nacional de Artesanías in July. At this annual crafts fair, hundreds of artisans from all over the island come to sell their wares. The highly sought-after items range from the practical (kitchen utensils, musical instruments) to the decorative (prints, religious carvings), presenting tourists with hard-to-choose-from tableaux of perfect souvenirs.