A few streets to the northeast of “El Parque de las Palomas” there’s an elegant square known as “Plaza de Armas”. Plaza de Armas’ original name was la “Plaza Mayor”. It was built by the Spanish government at the turn of the 19th century to resemble its much larger counterpart in the city of Madrid.
Plaza de Armas has undergone various modifications during the last two centuries. The original square was paved with a combination of tile brought from the Canary Islands and black river stone collected locally. In 1851, Spanish governor Pezuela added a “salón paseo” or strolling area that was much in vogue at the time in European circles. The new plaza ended up being several feet above street level and was sarcastically baptized by the sanjuaneros as “Pezuela’s Pantheon”.
By the time the US invaded the Island in 1898, the square had once again been brought down to street level, and a small concrete wall with ironwork decorations was built around the perimeter. The Plaza de Armas that we see today was restored in 1992, when the city celebrated the quincentennial of the discovery of America.