Coamo

(ko-AH-mo)

Coamo is known as "La Villa Añeja" (old villa) or "La Villa de San Blas de Illescas" (San Blas de Illescas villa). Coamo was founded on July 15, 1570 by Cristóbal y Blas de Illescas, making it one of the older towns on the island after San Juan and San Germán. The town’s original name was San Blas de Illescas, later changed to Coamo, named after a local Indian chief Coamex or Coamey.

By 1582, there were twenty families living in Coamo, in the same area where the Tainos had had their village of Guayama. Coamo became officially a town in 1616, and given the title of "Villa" by Spanish Royal Decree in 1778.

Coamo is famous for its thermal springs. They are noted for their healing and therapeutic waters. Long before the Spaniards arrived on the island, the Indians bathed in these waters, and according to legend, this was the fountain of youth that the Indians spoke to Ponce de León about which he mistakenly went to search for in Florida, and unfortunately for him the search would end in his death.

Land Area: 200 sq km (78.0 sq mi)
Water Area: 0.01 sq km
Population: 37,597
Density: 185.3 per sq km (482.0 per sq mi)
Housing Units: 13,249
Housing Density: 169.8
Per Capita Income: $6,102
Source: 2000 Census
Hymn: Allá muy cerca del pueblo...
Wards: Coamo Arriba, Cuyón, Hayales, Los Llanos, Palmarejo, Pasto, Pedro Garcia, Pueblo, Pulgillas, San Idelfonso, and Santa Catalina.
Driving Distance: 62.6 miles *
Driving Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes *

Coamo, established by Spanish settlers as the third town on the island, was the capital of the south until the 1880's, when political power moved to Ponce. Long before the Europeans arrived, Indians bathed in a thermal spring at Coamo; according to one legend, this was the fountain of youth the Indians described to Ponce de León. Today, a parador -Los Baños de Coamo- surrounds the famous spring. It was considered the islands most fashionable resort from 1847 to 1958.

Highlights of the town's plaza include an historical 18th-century church and an elegant masonry home converted into a museum with turn-of-the-century furnishings and local history displays. Open daily: 8:00am-noon 1:00pm-4:00pm, (787) 825-1150 Ext. 206.

In 1901, the first school building was constructed, the Franklin Public School.

During the Spanish-American War (1898), it was the scene of decisive battles.

Every year in february Coamo celebrates San Blás de Illescas Marathon, inaugurated in 1963 by Phi Delta Fraternity in honor to the founder of the town. International and local runners compete in a 13.1-mile half marathon. It's Puerto Rico's biggest race, and the crowds are always large.

The town is manufactures trading center for machinery, aircraft radio components, machines, and clothing. The surrounding areas produces corn, mangos, oranges and plantains.

Coamo is located in the southern region, north of Santa Isabel; south of Orocovis and Barranquitas; east of Villalba and Juana Díaz; and west of Aibonito and Salinas. Its rivers are: Coamo, Cuyón, Descalabrado, Lapa, Jueyes and Mina.

There are many well-known "coameños", among them: composer Bobby Capo.

Interesting Facts

    In 1755, Coamo became the first city where coffee was produced.

Festivals and Events

  • Carnaval de la Yuca - August
  • Carnaval del Juey - October
  • Carnaval Flor de Mayo - May
  • Festival de Bomba y Plena - November
  • Fiestas Patronales de San Blas Illescas - February
    Every year, Coamo celebrates a patron saint festival. The festivities include dances, food, parades and religious processions. (787) 825-1150
  • San Blas de Illescas Marathon - February
    Every year in february Coamo celebrates San Blás de Illescas Marathon, inaugurated in 1963 by Phi Delta Fraternity in honor to the founder of the town. International and local runners compete in a 13.1-mille half marathon. It's Puerto Rico's biggest race, and the crowds are always large. (787) 825-2775 or (787) 825-4077

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* The distance was calculated from San Juan.

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Did You Know?

The Cathedral of San Juan Bautista is the oldest buildings in San Juan, and is the second oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere; construction began in 1521.