5 main sights of Colonial Santo Domingo that you must visit

    If you are making your first trip to the Dominican Republic, be sure to visit the capital. Indeed, Santo Domingo is a huge city with a rich history, sharp contrasts and, of course Dominican colors.

    Santo Domingo

    Here is list of still more reasons to visit this incredible city:

    • Santo Domingo - the largest city in the Dominican Republic – it is home to about a third of the total population of the country - more than 3 million people
    • The colonial part of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List
    • Santo Domingo - the first city built by Europeans on the American Continent
    • In 2010, Santo Domingo was awarded the title of "Cultural Capital of America"
    • In addition to the most interesting historical parts, the city has many modern shopping centers, business districts and cultural attraction
    • Santo Domingo is the only Dominican city with a metro system
    • The city has the largest passenger and cargo port in the country, as well as two international airports
    • In Santo Domingo there are stadiums, an autodrome, a racecourse, theaters, concert venues and modern art galleries
    • Families with children will enjoy visiting the zoo and botanical garden. They are located in a real tropical forest and are great places for walking
    • In Santo Domingo, there are many city parks and natural attractions: for example, the Three Eyes cave with a system of underground lakes

    Of course, it is difficult for a newcomer to immediately navigate such a huge city. We will help you get around and tell you about the most important “don’t miss” sights in the city!

    This job is made easier by the fact that the most interesting places are concentrated in the historical part of the city which is very compact. We talk about all of them in this article.

    1. HOUSE OF DIEGO COLOMBUS (ALCÁZAR DE COLÓN)

    Santo Domingo

    If you are curious to know what the everyday life of Spanish aristocracy was like in the 16th and 17th centuries, be sure to visit this palace house which belonged to the son of the legendary explorer, Christopher Columbus.

    The building was erected by the titanic efforts of one and a half thousand Indians using blocks of coral limestone. It is interesting to note that no nails were used during the construction, even when installing doors and windows.

    The construction was completed in 1514, and Diego Columbus, the vice-king of the New World, settled there with his family.
    But already by the end of the 16th century, this palace had been plundered by pirates and was only revived in the second half of the 20th century. Today, there is a museum showing the furnishings of the house at the time the Columbus family there.

    2. STREET OF THE LADIES (CALLE LAS DAMAS)

    This beautiful paved street is famous as the first street of America. Actually, it was originally called "Fortress Street", because it was from this street you could get to the fortress of Osama.

    And the current name - "Street of the Ladies" was due to the fact that the ladies loved to walk around with the court ladies who came with the noble wife Diego Columbus. In addition, this street was paved with stone so that the ladies did not stain their outfits in the mud.

    Walking along this street, you will find a lot of interesting things:

    • the only surviving Sundial from colonial times
    • houses of nobles and important persons
    • Osama Fortress
    • home where Christopher Columbus spent a night during one of his travels

    And definitely take a look at the National Pantheon which was established on the site of the Jesuit Monastery by order of the dictator Trujillo.

    There are not many tombs of national heroes in it but state symbols are represented in abundance. Pay special attention to the massive cast-iron chandelier and "eternal fire".

    If you find yourself near the Pantheon around noon, you will be able to witness the changing of the guard and listen to the national Dominican anthem that always accompanies this event.

    3. THE PALACE OF KINGS (MUSEO DE LAS CASAS REALES)

    Originally, this majestic 16th century building was the Governor's residence, on the territory of which are also located: 

    • The Royal Court
    • Accounting Chamber
    • Reception of the governor and major military officials

    In the 1970’s a historical museum was created in this building which presents a collection of things from the colonial era.

    These exhibits clearly illustrate the main historical milestones of the colonial period of the country:

    • subjects of Indian culture
    • travel map of Columbus
    • the first settlements of Europeans
    • pirate artifacts
    • items used by slaveholders
    • basic crops

    Also on the territory of this complex is the recreation of a medieval pharmacy and on the second floor is a collection of weapons.

    4. FORTALEZA OZAMA FORTRESS

    Santo Domingo

    A very strategic place was chosen to build the first defensive fortress on the island - where the Osama River flows into the Caribbean Sea. The order for the building was given by the then Governor of Hispaniola, Nicolas de Ovanda. This man was a cruel ruler but a competent administrator. So at the end of the 16th century, Osama Fortress appeared - the first defensive structure of the New World.

    The fortress performed its direct functions for five centuries ending only in the 20th century. At times, the main tower was used as a prison.

    Be sure to climb up to the top platform of this tower - from there you have a magnificent view of the colonial city, the Osama River and the port.
    You can enter the fortress territory through the gates of Charles III, decorated with beautiful carvings.
    In the middle of the fortress, there is a statue of the commander of the fortress Gonzalo Fernandez Oviedo, who wrote here his famous book - The General History of the West Indies.

    5. SANTA MARIA CATHEDRAL (BASILICA MENOR DE SANTA MARÍA)

    Santo Domingo

    This temple is consecrated in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is also known as the First Catholic Cathedral of America ("Prima de America").

    The construction plans kept changing, and the final shape of the cathedral was determined in 1541. Five years later, Pope Paul III granted it the status of the main Cathedral of all the churches of the New World. Thus, this cathedral became the most important religious center of the new continent.

    Enjoying the architectural forms of the cathedral, you will find a combination of different styles - from Baroque to Gothic and Renaissance.
    On an area of 32,000 square feet, there are 12 chapels with burial places of archbishops, presidents and other important persons.

    At the end of the 16th century, pirates plundered the cathedral and used it as a temporary shelter and storage for looted treasure.
    During the restoration work in 1877, remains were found that allegedly belonged to Christopher Columbus.
    The temple itself is located on Columbus Square which is adorned with a monument dedicated to this famous seafarer.

    Of course, these are not all the interesting sights of the capital of the Dominican Republic. In future articles, we will definitely continue this list and tell about the Columbus Beacon, the Cave of Three Eyes, and much more!

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