Ponce’s first Spanish settlement in 1670 was also the year that the first Roman Catholic chapel and Plaza Las Delicias, Spanish for “Plaza of Delights” was built.
Plaza Las Delicias is Ponce’s major town square, known for its majestic-looking fountains, historical structures like the Parque de Bombas and the Catedral Nuestra del Señora de Guadalupe, lion statues, bars, restaurants, and the famous King’s Cream Helados, “ice cream” which looks and tastes more like sorbet than the ice cream most of us are familiar with, made of fresh fruit juice.
The focal point of Ponce, Las Delicias consists of two plazas adjacent to each other, the northern side’s Muñoz Rivera Plaza and the southern side’s Federico Degetau Plaza. The square is the Ponce Historic Zone’s center flanked by the Casa Alcaldía or the Ponce City Hall (south), the Banco Crédito y Ahorro Ponceño (east) Teatro Fox Delicias (north) and the Armstrong-Poventud Residence (west).
A Moving Picturesque Postcard
Erstwhile the Antigua Plaza Real, Plaza Degetau was renamed Plaza Federico Degetau after Puerto Rico’s first ever Resident Commissioner to the United States House of Representatives. The Fountain of Lions (Fuente de los Leones), rescued from New York’s 1939 World’s Fair, is its most fascinating spot, especially at night when lights illuminate the stone lions with waterspouts.
Flower gardens, marble benches, Indian laurel trees, and 19th century lamp posts that gives Las Delicias a nostalgic air even as it bustles with visitors, schoolchildren, shoppers, and locals. Spend a weekend exploring the plaza, which looks like a moving picturesque postcard, and discover restaurants, food stalls, bars, and booths with artisan-made products.
A Carriage Ride in a Charming Neighborhood
Listed in the American National Register of Historic Places, the Armstrong-Poventud residence, a.k.a. Residencia Armstrong-Poventud, will give you an idea of how 19th century was like in Puerto Rico. The residence has glass doors and windows designed in Europe’s neoclassical tradition with natural and floral motifs characteristic of the Victorian Era and the 20th century’s first few decades.
Converted into a museum and popularly known as Casa de las Cariátides because of its frontal façade’s caryatides statuettes of smiling young women with bodies in motion and wearing modern hairstyles, the interior of Casa Armstrong-Poventud is peppered with an eclectic mix of Chinese jars, Austrian chandeliers, and Victorian English lamps.
Mint Green and Pastel Pink Balconied Mansions
The charming neighborhood with proximity to Plaza Las Delicias has buildings with architectural styles from Spanish colonial to Art Deco and the surrounding streets, notably Calle Cristina, are dotted with homes that have wrought iron grills in intricate patterns. You can even go for an authentic, horse-drawn carriage drive around the plaza or take one of the trolleys.
Your travel to Plaza Las Delicias will not be complete if you don’t visit the Museo de la Historia de Ponce where you will see a 680 kilogram bathtub made of marble courtesy of Samuel B. Morse, the same guy who invented the telegraph.
To cap your tour, catch a play at the Teatro La Perla or take a selfie against a backdrop of pretty and quaint mint green and pastel pink balconied mansions.