Thinking of going on a tour to Puerto Rico? Read and save this review of Museum Fort Conde de Mirasol (aka El Fortin Conde de Mirasol or Fuerte de Vieques or Museo Fuerte Conde de Mirasol) so you know what to expect and what to do when you visit the most remarkable repository of Puerto Rican history and culture.
An Awesome History
Before Spain came into the picture, Vieques – a small island off what is now known as the Puerto Rican coast – used to be occupied by the indigenous Taino Indians. However, European adventurers and colonizers got into their heads in the 16th century to lay claim to Borikén (alternatively: Boriquen), the name that Puerto Rico originally went by.
The encroachment of the Spaniards resulted in several years of strife with the Taino. The Spaniards, with their firepower, eventually won. The losers were enslaved, made to work in sugar fields, along with their counterparts in Africa.
As time moved forward, Europe lost much of its dominance in seafaring. Their might was taken over by the United States. Spain lost many of its colonies as they continued to resist its rule. Eventually, Borikén faded into history, and Puerto Rico, the un-incorporated American territory was born.
Symbols of Military Power
During its heyday in the Caribbean, Spain built numerous forts to defend themselves from attackers. These forts, some of which used to be garrisons and prisons, are now part of what makes Puerto Rico a much-desired tourist destination.
The Museum Fort Conde de Mirasol in Vieques is one of those forts. Once a symbol of military power (although it never figured prominently in warfare) it was transformed in 1991 by the Puerto Rico Institute of Culture into what it is today – a well-maintained historical and socio-cultural repository of artifacts.
Tourist Treats and Alerts
As part of this review of Museum Fort Conde de Mirasol, the following information is provided for the benefit of all tourists.
1. What to See
Inside the Museum, you’ll find various ornaments and samples of pottery that date back to ancient times (Pre-Columbian). There are also antique Spanish military weapons on display, as well as historical documents preserved in the archives.
Sometimes, local artists hold exhibits of their work. The contrast between products of new creative blood and antique artifacts created by cultures and societies now long gone, is quite stunning.
2. What to Do
Making the best use of photo opportunities is a hit among visitors, particularly because of the amazing ocean views that surround the Fortín Conde de Mirasol.
3. What to be Mindful of
• The showcases are fragile, so, remember not to touch them.
• Food and beverage are not allowed inside the Fortín.
• Taking pictures is not allowed inside the exhibit rooms, whether you use professional photographic equipment or simply the built-in cameras in your tablets or mobile phones.
• Donations are much appreciated, they greatly help in the maintenance of the Fortín.