Ponce, Puerto Rico's fourth-largest city, is the birthplace of a long roster of Puerto Rican writers, statesmen, singers and poets.

Known as the Ciudad Senorial (the Noble City) or La Perla del Sur (the Pearl of the South), Ponce has taken equal pride in its architecture. In the mid-1800s, Ponceno leaders used the profits from their vast sugarcane and coffee crops to construct ornate buildings for various civic, cultural and artistic institutions—turning the downtown into a showplace. When Ponce's city economy waned in the 1930s, however, the buildings slid into disrepair.

Ponce has undergone a revival in the past decade or so, receiving millions of dollars from the Puerto Rican government—and some special assistance from Spain—to revitalize its wooden and plaster buildings (and quadrupling the number of historically significant protected ones), many of which are adorned with pillars, balconies and intricate latticework. The refurbishment campaign, known locally as Ponce en Marcha (Ponce on the Move), has had impressive results.

In addition to its architecture, Ponce also offers visitors a standout art museum and a picturesque boardwalk.

Note: Puerto Rico sustained severe damage during Hurricane Maria in September 2017. Recovery efforts may take years. Travelers should investigate current conditions prior to planning a visit.

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