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Arecibo is also known as La Villa del Capitán Correa (Captain Correa's Villa) after the Puerto Rican hero Captain Antonio de los Reyes Correa of the Spanish Army, who drove off a British Navy invasion by ambushing forces led by rear-admiral William Whetstone. Arecibo is also known as El Diamante Del Norte (The Diamond of the North) and La Ribera del Arecibo (The shore of Arecibo).
The Arecibo Observatory, known for housing the world's largest radio telescope, is located here. Arecibo is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arecibo.
HistoryWhen the Spanish arrived, they found the area occupied by the indigenous Taíno, led by Xamaica Arasibo, Cacique (chief) of the yucayeque (town) then named Abacoa.
Spanish colonists settled Arecibo in 1556, which they named for the cacique. It was their third settlement on the island, after Caparra (which later became San Juan), and San German. It is named after the cacique. Arecibo was officially founded as a city by the Spanish crown on May 1, 1616, under the governorship of Captain Felipe de Beaumont y Navarra, when the King of Spain granted the land (and the Taino living there) to Lope Conchillos. This gave the city its nickname "La Villa del Capitan Correa".
For some time the island was competed for by other European powers. On August 5, 1702, Captain Antonio de los Reyes Correa, a member of the Spanish Army, successfully defended Arecibo from a British Navy invasion led by rear-admiral William Whetstone. Commanding two British Navy ships and 40 men, Whetstone tried to take control of the city. Correa ambushed his forces, killing 22 British seamen and driving them off. The Spanish defenders suffered only one death and three wounded soldiers.
In 1778, Arecibo, by royal decree, was awarded the "Villa" status, though it was not integrated as such until 1802. In 1850 it was awarded the "Muy Leal" (very loyal). Over time, large part of its territory became separate municipalities. These include Manati, Barceloneta, Florida, Utuado, Jayuya, Hatillo, Camuy, Quebradillas and Isabela. In 1982, it was promoted to city status, though it continued to be affectionately by its previous nickname.
Arecibo is located in the Northern Coastal Plain region of Puerto Rico, extending inland into the Karst region. It lies south of the Atlantic Ocean; north of Utuado; east of Hatillo; and west of Barceloneta and Florida. The city occupies an area of 127 square miles (330 km2), of which, 45.23 sq mi (117.1 km2), is water.
The Rio Grande de Arecibo is the main river in the municipality, running through the middle of it. South of the municipality, in the karst region, it forms the Dos Bocas Lake, a primary source of water for Northern Puerto Rico. Several rivers feed the Rio Grande, including the Tanama River. East of the river, lies Caño Tiburones, an important marshland area that provides habitat for many kinds of birds and wildlife.
Arecibo has two forest reserves. Cambalache State Forest is located along the Barceloneta city limits, while Rio Abajo State Forest is located between Arecibo and Utuado. Caves include Cueva Ventana, which overlooks a valley formed by the Rio Grande de Arecibo, and La Cueva del Indio (Cave of the Indian), where paintings made by prehistoric indigenous peoples have been seen
Landmarks and places of interest
- Cathedral of Saint Philip the Apostle - Arecibo is one of the oldest colonial towns in Puerto Rico (1616). Among its historic buildings is the Cathedral of Saint Phillip Apostle, built beginning in the late 18th century. The first church, built in the middle of the 17th century, was destroyed by an earthquake in 1787. Construction of its replacement began soon after, although it was not completed until 1846. Four days after its dedication, an earthquake seriously damaged it. Repairs were not completed until 1882. The 1918 earthquake damaged the vault so badly that it was replaced by a flat concrete roof; a vaulted ceiling of composition board was placed inside. The cathedral of Arecibo is Puerto Rico's second-largest church after the Cathedral of San Juan. The plan is rectangular with three naves; the side naves are cut short to allow large flanking chapels, which occupy almost half the length of the church. The apse is semicircular, and has an unusual half-dome covering it. The facade is a triangular composition of three stages. The top stage, a short central tower, is a later addition, according to local architects and historians. Neoclassic ornamentation is used in an academic fashion on the lowest stage, but the other two show a less traditional use of bands and pilasters. The Renaissance-style windows are uncommon in Puerto Rican churches, but the central tower over the entrance is a common motif used throughout the island.
- City Hall -
- Punta Los Morrillos Lighthouse - In 1898 the Spaniards built the Arecibo Lighthouse. It was automated in 1964 and is still in use. A small park, Arecibo Lighthouse and Historical Park, has been established around it.
- Arecibo Observatory - The Arecibo Observatory is the largest single-unit radio telescope ever constructed and one of the world's most powerful radar-radio telescopes. The observatory's purpose is to support scientific studies. It has attracted several Hollywood directors who have filmed there; most recently GoldenEye and Contact. The radio telescope was used in 1974 to send the Arecibo message to space.
- Cambalache Forest Reserve - Forest between Arecibo and Barceloneta.
- Casa Ulanga - Originally a residence built by Spanish immigrant Francisco Ulanga, it has served multiple uses. It was later used as a bank, store, city hall of Arecibo, hospital, jail, tribunal, and is now operated as the Arecibo Cultural Center.
- Cueva del Indio - Archeological site where Taíno drawings can be found.
- Dos Bocas Lake - Reservoir located between the municipalities of Arecibo and Utuado.
- Paseo Victor Rojas (Victor Rojas Walk) - Also known as Paseo de Damas or simply El Fuerte, it was built in 1881 where Fort San Miguel's ruins once were.
- Manuel "Petaca" Iguina Coliseum - Home of the Arecibo Captains basketball team.
- Beaches - Nearby beaches include Los Morillos, Los Negritos, Poza del Obispo, and Las Tunas.
- Museum of Art and History of Arecibo - Shows art from local artists and shows the city's history.
Festivals and events
- Bicycle Competitions - January
- Arecibo Carnival - February
- Festival de paracaidismo de Puerto Rico (Freefall festival of Puerto Rico) - February
- Patron Festivities San Felipe Apóstol - May
- Playero Festival - July
- Folklore Festival - July
- Craftsman Fair - September
- Ceti Festival - November
- Puerto Rico's Flag Centennial - December
- Yesenia Montero's Horse festival - December