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San Juan Cathedral is the second oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere, located at San Juan, Puerto Rico today. The cathedral is situated just in front of the Hotel El Convento and the Plazuela de Las Monjas: historical sites in the heart of San Juan city. The San Juan Cathedral was opened in 1521, gaining the reputation of being one of the oldest buildings in Puerto Rico. The Gothic-neoclassical style cathedral opens its doors daily for about 9 hours. The Cathedral is a magnet for tourists and history aficionados, as it houses the crypt containing the remains of Puerto Rico's first governor, Juan Ponce de Le?n, a Spaniard who gained fame as one of the greatest explorers in history.

The Roman Catholic San Juan Cathedral, named after John the Baptist, was built in 1521. Alonso Manso, a San Juan bishop, was the man behind the construction of the cathedral. At the time, the church was only a simple building: its walls were wooden and it had a thatch roof. In October 1526, the structure was heavily damaged by a hurricane, causing the need for a renovation. Slowly, the church was rebuilt. The construction lacked funds and was disturbed by natural disasters. A Gothic-styled cathedral finally rose after a long renovation period.

Restorations were again made in 1917, contributing a contemporary aspect to the Gothic style of the cathedral as seen presently. The medieval feel of the church was preserved, evident in the cathedral's tower structure. In the 1900s, Juan Ponce de Leon's body was moved into a marble tomb in the Cathedral from the Iglesia de San Jose. Brightly colored statues in the cathedral, including a statue of Mary impaled by four swords, are also visited by tourists. In spite of the great loss of cathedral displays and treasure in the 1598 loot, the cathedral is still a remarkable sight with its beautiful stained glass windows.

The San Juan Cathedral continues to be a splendor of beauty in the heart of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Cathedral has been deemed by many as the greatest religious site in Puerto Rico. A colorful history and a beautiful present definitely make the San Juan Cathedral a portal to Puerto Rico's past.
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