Old San Juan Cemetery – San Juan, Puerto Rico - Atlas Obscura

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan Cemetery

This bleach-white graveyard overlooking the ocean is accessed through a tunnel.  

Built overlooking the ocean in Old San Juan, this beautiful cemetery is located amid two of the island’s busiest attractions, the El Morro fort and Castillo San Cristóbal. The cemetery itself is often photographed but not frequently visited; it lies close to the infamous neighborhood of La Perla, and is reached by way of a tunnel leading to the main gate. 

Once you are in the cemetery, step carefully as the gravestones have been placed very close to each other, especially as you approach the ocean. In places, you’ll need to walk single file. Some tombs are in worse conditions than others, but the white stone is beautiful throughout the cemetery.

The Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery, known simply to locals as the Old San Juan Cemetery, was officially established in the late 1800s and is the burial site of some of Puerto Rico’s most famous citizens. From inside the cemetery, there’s a great view of El Morro to one side, and La Perla to the other. Facing toward the island, you look upwards at the colorful houses of Old San Juan. 

In the center of the grounds is a small chapel, where you can get an elevated view of the nearby tombs, enjoy some shade, and feel the ocean breezes. Between the blue of the sky, the white of the stones, and the green foliage growing on some of the walls, it’s a beautiful and peaceful place to visit. 

Know Before You Go

Visit during the day when the cemetery attendant is on duty and the gates are open. The area is generally safe, as it's a frequently patrolled tourist area, but use common sense and don't visit at night.