Toa Alta, PR – Cradle of Poets

Not far west of San Juan lies the municipality of Toa Alta, one of the oldest in the island. It was founded in 1751, and just a year later construction began on its church, San Fernando Rey. The word “toa” comes from the name the native taínos had given to this region, a fertile valley that was one of the major agricultural centers during Spanish rule. This was so much the case, that Toa Alta came to be known as “La Granja de los Reyes Católicos,” that is, The Farm of the Catholic Kings.

Toa Alta also offers various opportunities to relax in or around nature. There’s the Villa Tropical Recreational Center, with its outdoor sports facilities, pools, and pool tables. The Lago La Plata Recreational Area offers lakeside facilities for picnics and barbecues. Fishing is very popular at this lake, where toalteños hold an annual competition to see who can catch the biggest “chopa” fish.

There are many unique sights to be found in the town of Toa Alta. The central plaza is where you will find the old church. There’s also the cultural center and theater named after famed musician and composer Tomás “Masso” Rivera. The Plaza de Recreo Egozcué is host to what is known as the cannonball tree (or, “Bala de Cañón”), a nickname that will only make sense when you see its fruit. Its flowers are also strangely beautiful: they are shell-shaped and colored yellow, red, and white.

Where there are flowers, there are usually poets: Toa Alta has been dubbed the Cradle of Poets due to the many writers who were born here. Among them is recently-deceased Abelardo Díaz Alfaro, whose finely-detailed verse and prose continue to be required reading in schools. His short story “El Josco,” based on true events at a local farm, is a modern myth among many penned by this legendary author. Beloved Dayanara Torres, a former Miss Universe who continues to be a major celebrity in the island, was born in Toa Alta as well.

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