Caparra Archaeological Site

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Ponce de Leon house.JPG
Ruins of Juan Ponce de Leon's residence at Caparra
Location Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Area 3 acres (1.2 ha)
Governing body State
NRHP Reference #


Significant dates
Added to NRHP February 28, 1984[2]
Designated NHL April 19, 1994[1]

Caparra is an archaeological site in the municipality of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. It was declared a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1994.[1][3]

At the time of the designation in 1994, it was stated:

Caparra Site contains the intact archeological remains of the first capital of Puerto Rico, the oldest known European community under United States authority. Caparra was founded by Juan Ponce de Leon, the first governor of the island, in 1508, and was abandoned in 1521 with the removal of the capital to San Juan.[1]

Today the grounds include the Museum of the Conquest and Colonization of Puerto Rico (Museo de la Conquista y Colonizaciòn), which features artifacts from the site and other archaeological sites in Puerto Rico.


In 1508, Juan Ponce de León founded the original Spanish settlement in Puerto Rico at Caparra (named after the province of Cáceres, Spain, the birthplace of then-governor of Spain's Caribbean territories Nicolás de Ovando),[4] which today is known as the Pueblo Viejo sector of Guaynabo, just to the west of the present San Juan metropolitan area. A year later, the settlement was moved to a site then called Puerto Rico, Spanish for "rich port" or "good port", after its similar geographical features to the island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands.[5] In 1521, the newer settlement was given its formal name, San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico, in honor of John the Baptist, following the tradition of christening the town with both its formal name and the name which Christopher Columbus had originally given the island.


  1. ^ a b c d "Caparra". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  2. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  3. ^ Note: A National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination document should be available upon request from the National Park Service for this site, but it appears not to be available on-line from the NPS Focus search site.
  4. ^ "Guaynabo -- Encyclopædia Britannica" (with history of Puerto Rico),Encyclopædia Britannica, 2006, webpage:EB-Guaynabo-Puerto-Rico:names: Caparra, the first Spanish settlement in Puerto Rico (1508).
  5. ^ "Historic places in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands". National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-05-02. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 18°24′18″N 66°06′51″W / 18.40500°N 66.11417°W / 18.40500; -66.11417