With over 412 years, is the most visited site in the town of San Germán, Puerto Rico and is considered one of the oldest churches in the Americas. This is about the Church of Porta Coeli or “Gateway to Heaven” built in 1606. Originally it was the Convent of “Santo Domingo de Porta Coeli”, a convent and school with its chapel.
Puerto Rico being one of the territories conquered by Spain, when the town of San Germán was established in 1531, the Crown of Spain, destined some resources to the priests of the Order of the Dominicans to establish a monastery there for their Order and continue their evangelization in these lands.
Its structural style is called colonial construction art and its interior, characterized by its columns and wooden roof and tiles, it is representative of the local construction of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Puerto Rico.
The altarpiece that found in the main chapel, has a baroque trace with decorative Rococo elements. It is estimated that it was made in the eighteenth century. It is the only piece of baroque altarpiece that remains in Puerto Rico. It was gilded and polychrome and in the year 1863, it was painted a marbling with blue veins to give it a neoclassical air.
In its religious collection are statues of saints in wood, paintings, sculptures, choral books, carvings, among other antique pieces.
The original structure was ruined by several attacks, both by the French and the Carib Indians. In 1544 there was hardly any standing structure and in 1874 it had to be demolished. The ruins that you see on your left side belong to the original structure when it was a convent.
In 1949, the Catholic Church transferred the Convent to the Government of Puerto Rico. It was restored in 1960 and became the Museum of Religious Art of Porta Coeli.