Located in the southwestern town of San Germán, Porta Coeli Museum is a tiny, dazzling gem of great architectural and historical value. Walk up its ancient staircase and look down on the plaza surrounded by centuries-old homes and you will catch a glimpse of Puerto Rico as it was in its earliest days.
Porta Coeli (“The Gate to Heaven”) was built in 1606, and is believed to be among the oldest churches on U.S. territory. It contains many of its original furnishings as well as a collection of religious art that includes colonial paintings and wooden statues dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Among its treasures is an altarpiece by José Campeche, the first—and by many considered to be the greatest—artist born in Puerto Rico.
San Germán, founded in 1573, is one of the oldest towns on the island and is one of only two that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Its isolation has helped preserve its unique character, readily evident on its plazas and quaint streets.
Today it is a university town, with Puerto Rico’s Inter American University located on a beautiful campus. You’ll want to see the many well-preserved historic homes near Porta Coeli, the coffee plantation, and the impressive San Germán de Auxerre Church.
Porta Coeli Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 AM to 4:15 PM.
How to Get There
Take road 2 from Mayaguez or from San Juan. From Road 2 exit on Road 122. The church is located in the center of the town.