Ponce, another coastal town on the flat lands of the south, is today the second most important city in Puerto Rico. It was named in honor of Juan Ponce de León y Loaiza, great grandson of the first governor.
In 1670, a small chapel was built in the area where the actual plaza is now located. Ponce de León y Loaiza was the town’s most enthusiastic colonizer; it was his main interest to have this area settled and unified into a town. These were the humble beginnings of what would become a very important and aristocratic city. The spacious plaza is the home of the Cathedral of Lady of Guadalupe which is located on the plaza instead of facing it. The alcaldia or town hall faces the plaza as do fine homes, commercial buildings, and banks.
To the north of the city are the grounds of the Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center. It is the oldest Indian cemetery uncovered up to date. According to Juan Gonzalez Colon in his thesis : “ . . . we have proven that the plazas and bateyes in Tibes were made between 700 and 1200 A.D., a time when preTaino groups were in full development, and which were the origin of the wellknown Taino Indian group . . . ”
This archeological discovery affirms that the Igneri Indians (pre-Taino) did not completely disappear without leaving traces of their existence other than samples of ceramic pottery. At Tibes, there is proof that the Igneris were farmers, fishermen, and hunters of birds and small animals. The plazas and bateyes vary in size and shape, with one being circular and bordered by triangular stone forms. This dance ground resembles a rising sun; its stone triangle points line up with the sun during equinoxes and solstices, making Tibes a possible astronomical observatory from preColumbian times. Further studies and investigations are being done presently on Tibes.