Moca, PR

Moca is a peaceful, northwestern municipality known all over the world for a type of lace pattern (with medieval roots yet) perfected here. This is the capital of what is called mundillo-style, or bobbin lace. For those not familiar with the weaving arts, suffice it to say that this very intricate style is used as a decorative element in everything from baby clothes to wedding gowns, tapestries and linen, even handkerchiefs. Not surprisingly, the town is home to a monument, a museum, and an annual festival in celebration of mundillo.

Downtown Moca’s historical attractions include the Hacienda Enriqueta. This structure now houses a museum of colonial artifacts. There’s also a 19th-century Catholic church, Nuestra Señora de la Monserrate, as well as a trolley available for tours of the area. There’s also the funky architecture of Hotel y Hacienda Los Castillos, built in 1938 by Dr. Manuel Meléndez and his brothers to host their influential friends. Its three buildings are meant to evoke medieval times but have their own modern flair. The buildings are now a hotel which, though medieval-themed, still offers traditional Puerto Rican accommodations and food.

More grandiose still is Palacete Los Moreau, a 19th century French provincial style mansion built in what was once a wealthy French family’s sugar and coffee plantation. The site was acquired by the municipal government in 1993 after decades in disrepair, then restored and reopened for visitors. Even though the house is not furnished, the structure itself is a sight to behold. On the grounds of the estate, guests can take a look at an old steam engine that was used in plantation days. The name of the house is actually fictional, taken from a novel written by local Enrique Laguerre, who was inspired by it estate to write his brutal novel about the sugarcane industry, La Llamarada.

Among Moca’s natural wonders is the tree that gave the town its name. The moca tree, or Andira inermis, is common in this area. Its pink and slightly purple flowers paint the green landscape of the valley. Bring a snack to the lookout point area known as El Merendero, which provides panoramic views of the beautiful scenery, Moca’s downtown, and beyond… as far as the island of Mona.

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