Cruceta El Vigía

Cruceta El Vigia (El Vigia Cross) is a 100-foot-tall cross located atop Vigia Hill in Ponce, Puerto Rico, directly in front of the Serralles Castle museum. It houses a tourist center at its base, a 10 story vertical tower, and a horizontal sky bridge that has panoramic views of the city of Ponce and the Caribbean sea. Visitors can reach the skybridge via glass elevators or a stair case. Made of reinforced concrete, the cross has withstood various natural disasters, including 3 major hurricanes. The cross has arms measuring 70 feet. It was inaugurated in 1984.

One of many landmarks of the city of Ponce, the cross is owned by the Municipality of Ponce and is currently operated by the "Patronato de Ponce", a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and administrating several of the city's landmarks.

Historical background

The cross sits at the same spot on Vigia Hill where early Spanish settlers once looked out for merchant ships and would-be invaders, including marauding pirates. In 1801, the settlers built a much smaller cross made of two intersecting tree trunks where an observer would constantly watch the sea and the city's port, raising different flags to either notify local merchants of incoming trade ships or alert military authorities of possible threats (a replica of this wooden cross now sits behind the current monument). Originally a hut was built accompanied by a cross from where flags were raised to signal the approach of ships as well as their port of origin. This station was run by two brothers Ricardo and Alberto Lugo, they were honored with a plaque at the base of the cross in 1984. They are descendants of Alonso Fernández de Lugo last conquistador of Spain.

One of the best remembered watchmen was named Luis Castro. Nearly 200 years ago, Luis would sit atop a huge wooden cross on this hill. On the lookout for ocean vessels, it was his responsibility to determine the nationality of approaching ships. If he recognized the vessel he would raise a flag, but if a ship was thought to be carrying contraband then no flag was raised and the Spanish military would investigate. The Cruceta was built in honor of Mr. Castro and all the other watchmen who so faithfully helped protect the city during its younger years.

The Vigia Hill also served as a refugee camp for citizens during a storm on September 12, 1738, an earthquake on May 10, 1787, a tsunami on November 18, 1867, and the United States invasion on July 25, 1898.

Japanese Garden

In recent years, a Japanese Garden was built in the grounds nearby the Cruceta. The garden is located in a 2,223 square meter ground. Its purpose is to encourage spiritual peace and harmony by the means of nature and Zen music. The garden features small lakes, rivers, bonsais, and bridges.