Casa Cabildo

This power was not absolute, as Spanish governor Don Sancho Velázquez, found himself sentenced by Spanish Inquisition to his death in the jails in the basement of his noble house.

Casa CabildoEl Cabildo is the name of the building which now encompasses a structure at the corner of Calle del Santo Cristo and Caleta de las Monjas streets in Old San Juan. The building’s name carried the name of the autonomous municipal council. El Cabildo was the lowest administrative unit in the Spanish Government. This institution was especially influential in Spanish America, where it was set up in the early 16 century.
The Town Council of San Juan is originally established provisionally at the Village of Caparra, the first Spanish Settlement in Puerto Rico, back in 1509. Two years later, it is fully organized as gathered from a Royal Decree issued in Sevilla by King Ferdinand the Catholic on  February 26, 1511. From its original site, the government relocated to the island of San Juan, and at its present site, El Cabildo became one of the first structures in the future capital of the island. Built in 1523, it was originally a one-story building; a second floor was added in the 1600’s.
The structure of the house, city hall, and in its basement (town’s first jail), is an imitation of the Castilian “ayuntamiento”, the name it was at first briefly called, this was the only institution in which creoles could participate. It was presided over by the administrator of a provincial division, who wielded considerable legislative and judicial powers, imposed taxes and supervised trade and public facilities such as hospitals and jails.
This power was not absolute, as Spanish governor Don Sancho Velázquez, found himself sentenced by Spanish Inquisition to his death in the jails in the basement of his noble house.
In the early 1960’s, after decades of languishing in despair, Don José Alegría rescued the property, which became an example for its reconstruction and remodeling. His work won the outstanding design property and award of the Architects Association of Puerto Rico.
Alegría converted the space of El Cabildo to suit his own needs, Casa Cabildo had interior design offices, antique and contemporary furniture, showrooms, and art gallery in the first floor. The wine cellar in the basement stored some exceptional vintage ports and made the second floor his living quarters. Now the site for Galería Éxodo, Caribbean and Contemporary Art Gallery.

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