Second in importance and location was the village of San Germán, situated on the southwestern end of the island. When Ponce de León first arrived in Puerto Rico in 1506, he had several wooden huts made by the Indians. He named the place Higuey because it reminded him of Santo Domingo where he had been living for a while. In 1510, Cristobal de Sotomayor built on and colonized a spot in the same area but the Indians destroyed both settlements.
The town of San Germán was founded officially after several attempts in 1573. This town was not built on the coast as were the other original settlements. Rather, it was built twenty kilometers inland, but the attacks from pirates persisted. Drake attacked in 1595 and in 1625 the Dutch attacked. Both enemies were driven away.
The Church of Porta Coeli was begun under the direction of the Priest Antonio Mej’a in 1606. It was built high on a hill overlooking the town of San Germán. The building itself is small and simple in structure and native woods mark a deep contrast with its white walls. The church now serves as a museum of religious art. There is another church in San Germán, which is larger and more elaborate in construction and style. Each church has a plaza facing it and both are within walking distance of each other. The two plazas are separated by the cabildo or police headquarters. Records state that there was a hospital in San Germán in 1531, and in 1606 it was housed in the alcaldia or town hall.