Cayey is located in the mountainous region of Puerto Rico and has an area of 128.74 square kilometers (49.71 square miles). It is known as the “Misty City,” the “City of Mount Torito,” and the “City of the Golden Coquí.” According to the 2000 census, there are 47,370 Cayeyanos, living in 22 wards: Beatriz, Cayey Pueblo, Cedro, Cercadillo, Culebras Alto, Culebras Bajo, Farallón, Guavate, Jájome Alto, Jájome Bajo, Lapa, Matón Abajo, Matón Arriba, Monte Llano, Pasto Viejo, Pedro ávila, Piedras, Quebrada Arriba, Rincón, Sumido, Toíta, and Vegas. The patroness is Our Lady of the Assumption, whose festival is held in August.
There are many attractions in Cayey, including Guavate ward, where part of the Carite State Forest is located, as well as the “roast pork trail.” During the Christmas season, many visitors flock to the roast pork stands and restaurants that serve local delicacies. Puerto Rican folk music and food create a certain magic in the area for visitors from around the island and abroad. The Three Kings Recreational park is located on the same highway. Craft fairs, festivals, and poetry and musical events are held at the Park. The monument to the Three Kings was created by Juan Santos and sculptors Héctor León and Gladys Nieves. All along Route 184 there are fifteen sculptures created by this artist. The summer residence of the governors of Puerto Rico is located in the Jájome sector.
Besides its renowned elevations, Cayey is an important historic and cultural center. There is a campus of the University of Puerto Rico, several museums, and the Muñoz-Mendoza residence, where former governor Luis Muñoz Marín lived with his wife Inés Mendoza, when he retired from the governorship. The residence will soon become a historical archive. Other interesting points are the five royal roads, used by our indigenous peoples to travel from the mountains to the coast; and Our Lady of Assumption Church, whose pews were designed by the renowned Puerto Rican painter Ramón Frade and which houses a sculpture called Virgen Taína, by Tomás Batista-Encarnación.
Located in the mountainous region of Puerto Rico, Cayey faces the south coast. It is bordered on the north by Cidra and Caguas, on the south by Salinas and Guayama, on the east by Caguas, San Lorenzo, and Patillas, and on the west by Aibonito and Salinas.
The town is located in a valley that is protected by the Cayey range, part of the central mountains. Peaks include Tabla, at 2,920 feet (890 meters), Avispas, at 2,789 feet (850 meters), Munt El Gato, at 2,690 feet (820 meters), Peña Domingo, at 2,641 feet (805 meters), and El Torito, at 2,395 feet (730 meters ) above sea level. The climate is pleasant, with an average temperature of 73.3 °F.
The hydrographic system is comprised of the La Plata, Matón, Guavate, Carite, Chiquito, Jájome, Majada, and Lapa rivers. Brooks include Culebras, Grande, El Cedro, Beatriz, Santo Domingo, Carmen, Pasto Viejo, and Collao.
The history of Cayey goes back to an indigenous settlement called Toíta on the banks of the La Plata River. The name Cayey was recorded in writing for the first time in 1519 and has been variously spelled as Cahey, Cayei, Caiyey, and Calley. It is believed that this was the name of the chief, or cacique, of the region. In Spanish colonial times there was a small settlement in what was known as the Hato de Cayey, part of Coamo. On July 2, 1773, settlers in the Toíta region petitioned Governor Miguel de Muesas for permission to found a town, which was granted on August 17, 1773, barely a month and a half later. The new town was called “Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Cayey de Muesas.” In the early days of the town, there were seven dwellings and a wooden church. By 1787 a chapel and two sacristies had been built. The economy was based on cattle farming, and in spite of the abundance of produce and trees, the inhabitants consumed barely enough to meet their needs.
In the early 19th century, the township of Cayey lost population, since the residents of Cidra seceded. However, several groups of immigrants came to the area at the time, from France, the Spanish provinces of Catalonia, Cantabria, and Galicia, and the Canary Islands. These immigrants married into criollo families who had settled in the valley. By the second half of the century, there was a flourishing coffee industry. Economic growth was fueled by the construction of the central highway. In 1827, the road between Cayey and Caguas was completed, and the road to Ponce was finished in 1829. The year after, work was begun on the road to Cidra. The first bridge on the road between Cayey and Cidra was inaugurated in 1854. The road to Aibonito was built in 1878 and in 1895 a route connecting Cayey and Arroyo through Guayama was completed. These new routes meant that the town had a strategic location in the 19th century communications network, which were crucial for Cayey’s development during the 20th century.
The Cayey flag is divided into four triangles pointing towards the center, two of which are white and two of which are red. The red symbolizes the Spanish tradition. The flag bears the Cayey seal at the center.
Coat of Arms
The Cayey coat of arms is comprised of a three-peaked green mountain, a red bull, and a blue stripe. In the seal, the coat of arms is crowned by a lamb seated on a book, the symbol of Saint John. The red and gold in the seal symbolize the Spanish tradition, while the green symbolizes the landscape and hills of Cayey. The blue color symbolizes the abundance of water in the area and the first patron saint of the town. The black color symbolizes antiquity, solemnity, and seriousness. The mountains and the blue allude to Mount El Torito, the traditional symbol of the municipality.
1773 Juan de Mata Vázquez
1784 Tomás Vázquez
1826 Francisco Capó
1828 Tomás Pacanis
1846 Juan López
1853 Sebastián Colón
1855 Francisco Sicardó
1859 Juan López
1864 Lucas Vega de Alicea
1868 José Muñoz
1870 José Nogueras
1870 Francisco González
1872 Fernando Yera, Marcelino Romani, Luis Venegas, Ruperto Carpena, José Félix Franco
1873 Justo Venegas, Justo Vidal, Emérito Colón Warren
1874 Manuel Núñez
1879 Emilio Castaños
1880 Pedro Pastor Egea
1881 Cayetano Graner, Luis Bas
1883 Benito J. Polo
1890 Manuel Morales, Benito J. Polo
1891 Manuel Morales
1893 L. Mir, Juan José Baldrich, Luis Muñoz Morales
1895 Juan José Baldrich, Juan Ortiz
1896 Vicente Rodríguez Vázquez
1897 J. Franqui
1898 N. Rodríguez, Amador Trías Silva, Luis Muñoz Rivera
1899 Manuel Morales, José de García de Quevedo, Arturo Díaz, Chacal
1900 Pedro Rivera Collazo
1900 Jesús Hernández
1901 Cornelio Ortiz
1901 A.G. Agüero
1901 Francisco Candelas
1904 Pedro Rivera Collazo
1907 César María Ortiz
1914 Heraclio Mendoza
1921 César María Ortiz
1924 Benigno Fernández García
1927 Abelardo García Méndez
1928 Baltasar Mendoza
1932 Bernardino Vázquez Aponte
1934 Francisco Fernández
1935 Pedro Quintana Vázquez
1940 José Mendoza
1946 Roberto Díaz
1948 Francisco Colón Juliá
1957 José Juan Meléndez
1962 Santiago Berríos
1965 Rafael Coca Navas
1973 Leonides Toledo Rivera
1988 Daniel Oquendo Figueroa
1996 Rolando Ortiz Velázquez
Jenaro Baquero – economist, attorney and educator. Baquero was Secretary of Commerce from 1965 to 1969. He has also presided or was on the board of several private and public institutions.
Félix Lucas-Benet – secretary of the provincial assembly in San Juan.
Milagros Benet de Newton – educator, civic leader, and political figure. Benet fought for votes for women in Puerto Rico. She was president of the Suffragist League (1920 – 1922) and the Pan-American Women’s Association of Puerto Rico (1923 – 1933), among others.
Félix Bonilla-Norat – painter and art critic, Bonilla studied in the Untied States, Spain, and Italy, and exhibited at the Salon de Tuileries in 1938. Bonilla had a studio in New York and was an art critic for The San Juan Star.
Luis Raúl “El Rolo” Colón – an outstanding baseball player.
Angel David Cruz-Báez – geographer and educator, Cruz wrote the Atlas de Puerto Rico. He headed the Geography Department at the University of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Geographers Association.
Agustín Fernández-Colón – a civic leader, he was secretary of the Puerto Rico Farmers’ Association, a member of the Cayey city council, and director of the newspaper La Correspondencia de Puerto Rico.
Benigno Fernández-García – attorney and political figure. Fernández-García was born in Luquillo, but was adopted as a native son of Cayey. As a political figure, he was a Representative in 1912, 1914, and 1917,as a member of the Union Party of Puerto Rico. Between 1924 and 1928 he was mayor of Cayey for the Puerto Rico Alliance Party and he represented that party in the House in 1928, serving as vice president of that body. From 1934 to 1939 he was attorney general of Puerto Rico, and under GovernorTugwell he headed the Labor Department.
Eugenio Fernández-Méndez – anthropologist, educator, poet, and essayist. Fernández headed the University of Puerto Rico Press (1955 – 1964) and was the first president of the board of directors of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (1955 – 1964). He also was a member of the Puerto Rico Academy of the Spanish Language and resident humanist at the Cayey Campus of the University of Puerto Rico. His works include subjects such as anthropology, history, and art, reflecting his interest in the issue of Puerto Rican identity.
Lionel Fernández-Méndez – attorney and political figure. A member of the Constituent Assembly that created the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (1951 – 1952). Senator for the Popular Democratic Party from 1949 to 1972.
Ramón Frade de León –renowned painter. Frade studied in the Dominican Republic, where he won a gold medal from the Dominican Academy for his work Vista panorámica de Santo Domingo (1893). He also studied briefly in Italy. His most famous works include El pan nuestro de cada día, La planchadora, and La cogedora de café.
José “Rony” Jarabo-Alvarez – attorney and political figure. Jarabo was an at -large representative from 1973 to 1992. He presided the House from 1985 to 1992.
Emérita León-Candelas – educator and painter
July César López – poet and essayist. Lopez studied in Puerto Rico and Venezuela. His works include books of essays such as Peregrino de sombras (1967) and Pulso variable (1979) and poetry such as Fogatas del tiempo (1972) and Geografía del vértigo (1976).
Francisco E. Martínez-Aponte – economist and educator.
Juan Mata-Vázquez – first mayor of Cayey.
Miguel Meléndez-Muñoz – journalist, essayist, and storywriter
Baltasar Mendoza-Martínez – an outstanding mayor.
Angel M. Mergal – poet and anthropologist.
Pedro Montañez – known as El Torito de Cayey. Boxer of international stature.
Luis Muñoz-Morales – writer, essayist, university professor, and author of well-known legal treatises.
Rafael Rivera-Otero – poet and journalist. He was sub-director and correspondent for El Mundo.
Rivera received the Roosevelt Medal from the Puerto Rico Athenaeum in 1930 for the poem For All the Days that Were not Beautiful.
Jesús María Robles “Chuito el de Cayey” – musician
Félix Rodríguez-Báez – painter. His works include landscapes and still lifes, his oil painting Paisaje de Cayey (1968) being one of his best-known works.
Marcos Rodríguez-Frese – poet. Rodríquez-Frese has received several prizes form the Puerto Rico Athenaeum. At one time he headed the pro-independence Federación Universitaria Pro-Independencia.
José Rodríguez-Pastor – physician and writer. Rodríguez headed the Tuberculosis Bureau in Puerto Rico for almost two decades (1925 – 1942). His writings include a collection of essays titled La importancia de ser puertorriqueño.
Vicente Rodríguez-Rivera – attorney, poet and writer. He wrote for newspapers and periodicals, such as La Democracia, El Imparcial, El Mundo, and Puerto Rico Ilustrado.
Bernardo Vega – journalist, political figure, and union leader. Vega was one of the founders of the Socialist Party (1912), founded and directed the newspaper Gráfico (1927), and wrote for the newspapers Liberation and El Progresista.
Hon. Rolando Ortiz-Velázquez
Places of Interest
• Carite State Forest
• City Hall
• Cayey Historical Museum
• Roadkeeper’s House
• Cayey Seismology Center
• Mount El Torito
• Luis Raúl “El Rolo” Colón Municipal Sports complex
• School of Fine Arts
• Garita de Cayey Knoll
• Rex Cream ice-cream parlor
• Our Lady of the Assumption Church
• Monument to the Puerto Rican Jíbaro
• Monument to the Three Kings and The Three Kings Recreational Park
• Veterans’ Monument
• Dr. Pío López Martínez Art Museum
• Ibero-American Promenade
• Ramón Frade Town Square
• Guavate Roast Pork Stands
• Cayey Sports Hall of Fame
• Children and the Mountains Festival – January
• Regional Fair – April
• Torito Olympic Games– April
• Trumpet Tree Festival – June
• Distinguished Youth of Cayey – June
• Constitution Night – July
• Patron Saint’s Festival – August
• Saint Isidore the Farmer – October
• Christmas Festival – December
• Cabalgata del Río – December
• Poetry and Song – second Friday of the month
Note: These articles have been edited and checked by academics and specialists in History. Discrepancies may exist among historians regarding some data.
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: June 04, 2010.
Images Gallery of Cayey
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