"Ponce es Ponce" Top 5 Page for this destination Ponce by HAROLD_PR
Ponce Travel Guide: 49 reviews and 155 photos
This is my hometown, I was born and raised here, and I thought I could write a few lines about it. I felt empowered to do so. After all, I wrote “city profiles” on cities that I just visited for a week or so. How about one of Ponce? This is it.
Ponce is the second largest city in Puerto Rico. It has a metropolitan population of roughly 200,000 people. It is a good-sized city although it does not behave like one in many respects. The city was founded in 1692 in the southern coast of the island. It is often said that Ponce is the true Puertorican City, the moral capital of the nation. It was not, like San Juan, built by the metropolis (Spain) under strict strategic parameters for the use for defense.
As a commercial center, Ponce flourished. Being far away enough from San Juan to embrace contraband and profit from it, the city could also be called the “contraband capital of Puerto Rico.” It is important to note that the only authorized port in Puerto Rico (only able to do business with Seville) under the seedy Spanish mercantilist system was San Juan. This changed when the Spanish liberals awarded concessions for three more ports (Ponce was one of them) sometime in the second half of the nineteenth century.
The historic center of Ponce is a sight not to be missed. Many architects from different styles and nationalities (Spanish, French, and others) worked at will to create some beautiful buildings, some of them in the neoclassical style. Although the city center is not like the one in San Juan, part of the Unesco World Heritage List, it is beautiful and it contrasts very well with San Juan.
Most of the time, when I write a page here, which is not too often, I give priority to what I call the “local experience.” I will concentrate here (as in the Puerto Rico page) not in the historic part of the journey, but into the local issues. I am a lover of history (I really am) but I don’t think that the audience here expects a thorough history lesson of Puerto Rico from the landing first wave of igneri Indians in Boriken. With this said, let me talk a little about Ponce.
As said before, Ponce is the second-largest city in Puerto Rico. For the people in San Juan, “Ponceños” are very far and are “from the island.” For the residents of the “Metro Area” or I would say “Greater San Juan” you are either in the “Metro Area” or in the island. East Coast, West Coast, all is the “island.” Ponceños are very proud. It is like a subdivision of the almost fanatical nationalistic feeling of all Puertoricans. Not only I am Puerto Rican, body and soul; I am also Ponceño, body and soul. It is such the pride and our identity that the city of Ponce is autonomous, the Autonomous City of Ponce. This meaning that we are a micro-country, inside an island that is not a country either, rather a micro-country inside the United States. As San Juaneros belittle us as unrefined, uncool people, we have grown quite defensive, as Ponceños, to our brothers up north. It is not as bad as it sounds, I would say it is more like friendly rivalries, like the ones in the USA with southerners. It takes the minimal motivation, like a basketball game, or the Miss Universe contest to let all aside.
Ponce is the less Americanized “big city” in Puerto Rico. This is changing very, very, very fast. We are not alone, everywhere in the world, the same thing is happening and there is nothing you can do about it. But it is still interesting to notice how detached Ponce is from foreign things, of course from the perspective that we are not in Brazil, or in Venezuela, we are part of the United States of America. People in Ponce are less prone to speak fluent English compared to people in the Area Metro, and less prone to do American things. This is a phenomena exhibited in probably any capital or metro area in the world. However, it is not a waste to delineate it here. If you are in Ponce, even as a 300,000 people kind-of-town, expect some close minded, not very city-like people. As I said before (Gosh, I am talking in general here) Ponce, for the most part does not behave like a 300,000 people city.
Much progress has come to Ponce. Everybody other than small business owners is happy. We have all the American giant stores, and we get them continuously, I mean, a dozen a year or so. More and more are coming, and life in Ponce is becoming more and more convenient (in American terms.) Gone are the days of the traditional little restaurants everywhere, the ferreterias, local farmacies, ect. Life is good here now, 24 hours a day. Culture has taken a back seat here, but not entirely. As I said before, Ponce is still very jibaro, much more than San Juan. It is probably amusing to watch Ponceños struggle with the language and with the methods in what is supposed to be their language and their methods. Well, It is a natural trait of a colony.
- Pros:It is away from the buzz of the "Metro Area"
- Cons:It is a different kind of city, not sure if in a good way
- In a nutshell:Come and see it, otherwise, you have not seen Puerto Rico
NOTE THAT SOME OF THE SPOTS ARE OUTSIDE PONCE BUT IN THE AREA (THE ISLAND IS SMALL!) I AM NOT COUNTING ANY OF THE SPOTS... more travel advice
One of the best collections in the Caribbean. Go to the web page (do a search) for detailed information on artists and... more travel advice
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Ponce Travel Guide
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