The Saint John the Baptist Cathedral in San Juan is the oldest church in Puerto Rico and the second oldest in all of the American continent. It was built in 1521 and its first bishop was Alonso Manso, who designated the Cathedral’s site and design. The original structure was built with wood with a straw ceiling. The Cathedrals evolution construction-wise was long and hard lasting close to two centuries. This mainly as a result of diverse misfortunes. From storms, hurricanes, earthquakes and even the Dutch attack on the city in 1625.
The main chapel was finally completed around 1567, together with two Gothic vaults. Her elegant circular staircase is of great beauty. together with its Gothic ceilings and the old belfry. This late Gothic style was prominent in Spain and the Americas in cathedrals of the XVI century. This cathedral is a lovely example of medieval architecture in the New World.At the end of 1802, construction of the final phase began and is as currently stands. This architectural design belongs to the Engineer Tomás Cedeño.
The Saint John the Baptist Cathedral is National Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Divine Providence, Patron of Puerto Rico. Also housed within are the mortal remains of the explorer and conquistador, Juan Ponce de Leon as well as that of the Martyr Saint Pius. There are also important relics such as the ornaments and clothing of Pope Juan Paul II from his visit to Puerto Rico in 1984. In addition, the interior houses Religious art of great historical value.