One of the most memorable historical locales in Puerto Rico is also not quite there anymore. The municipality of Guaynabo is home to the ruins of what was Spain’s first seat of government. The name of the settlement was Caparra -still the name of this area- where Juan Ponce de León was declared the island’s first governor in 1508. On the grounds of the ruins, visitors can glimpse a bit of the history that transpired in this region at Museo de la Conquista y Colonización, with dug-up documents and artifacts in exhibit. Still, it was the taíno name that prevailed for the city, and so the “place of sweet waters” became what is now Guaynabo.
Guaynabo is an industrialized and populous municipality next to San Juan and, as such, part of the Metropolitan Area. It boasts several popular malls like San Patricio Plaza, as well as many recognized galleries such as Viota and Mehr Licht. Film buffs will delight at the annual Puerto Rico Cinemafest, an international film festival, which takes place in cinemas across the metro area, including Guaynabo.
It wasn’t always this way, though. It was Governor Luis Muñoz Marín’s Operation Bootstrap, set in motion during the 1950s, that sparked one of the most rapid waves of development the island had seen. These days even the municipality’s website has won awards, and its residents pride themselves in taking the wheels of progress into their own hands.
Closer to the town center, known as Guaynabo Pueblo, there are a number of interesting museums and cultural centers. Among them is a sports museum that testifies to Guaynabo’s claim to the title The City of Sports. The Centro de Bellas Artes de Guaynabo -not to be confused with San Juan’s- offers year-round performances for those interested in Hispanic theatre, music, and dance, in both its “high culture” and more popular expressions.