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This article was written on 12 Apr 2010, and is filled under To: Dominican Republic.

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Dominican Republic – SANTO DOMINGO

If you are planning a cheap all inclusive Caribbean vacation in the Dominican Republic, make sure to take a trip to Santo Domingo, the capital of the DR.


SANTO DOMINGO

Santo Domingo, a sprawling city with a population of close to 2 million, is the capital of the Dominican Republic and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its medieval palaces and fortresses in the old city mix with trendy restaurants, art galleries, boutique hotels, and late-night clubs to rival any modern city in the world. The first Spanish settlement in the New World was built in Santo Domingo’s 12-block Zona Colonial. History buffs will want spend a day exploring the many first colonial monuments of the New World.

Visit Santo Domingo famous churches and cathedrales and admire all the detailed paints.

Church ceiling - Walk around Santo Domingo and don't miss the fabulous churches and cathedrales.

picture by Bree Bailey

Santo Domingo boasts the first street of the American continent, Calle Las Damas (Ladies Street), which is named after the elegant ladies of the Spanish court who took their afternoon promenade down this street. Here you can see a sundial erected during the reign of Carlos III in 1753 and the Casa de los Jesuitas (House of Jesuits), one of the oldest buildings in the city. Completed in 1747, this stone and brick house was built as a university by the Jesuits and now houses a fine research library for colonial history as well as the Institute for Hispanic Culture. Walk along the street going toward the Malecón, and you will find remarkably preserved colonial buildings that are owned by the Catholic Church.

Casa de Bastidas (House of Bastidas) was the residence of Captain Rodrigo de Bastidas, the Almojarife Mayor (Principal Royal Tax Collector) and governor of Santo Domingo. Built in an unusual style, it was also used as a safe to store the Crown treasure until it was sent to Spain. Today, the building is used for art exhibitions and concerts.

Casa del Cordón was built in 1503 and is the oldest structure in the New World. This 2-story stone house was the temporary residence of Christopher Columbus’s son, Diego Colón, until his castle, the Alcazar de Colón, was completed in 1517. When Sir Francis Drake invaded Santo Domingo in 1586, a transaction took place in this building to prevent the total destruction of the city.

An early construction dating from the 16th century, Casa de Tostado was the residence of writer Don Francisco Tostado, one of the earliest settlers on the island. The architecture of this house is said to be unique – note the sumptuous rooms, the exquisite archways and the unique twin Gothic windows. The house now contains the Museo de la Familia Dominicana (Museum of the Dominican Family), which has exhibits of historical documents of the Dominican national heritage.

The Museo de las Casas Reales (Museum of the Royal Houses) has a collection of colonial artefacts and other archaeological finds from the island’s Hispanic period. It is housed in the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, the most remarkable colonial building remaining in Santo Domingo. Here was located the seat of the Spanish governor and the Royal Court. Built in the Renaissance style, it has gorgeous windows done in the plateresque style, Isabelic decorations and a beautiful interior courtyard.

The Cathedral Metropolitana Santa María de la Encarnación is the first church in the Americas. Spanish workmen began building the cathedral in 1514, but left to search for gold in Mexico. Having been designed by many different people, the church displays a variety of architectural elements, from Roman style arches and Gothic style vaults to Baroque ornaments. Check out the high hammered silver altar and the magnificent stained glass inside the cathedral.

Completed in 1562, the Iglesia Santa Bárbara (Church of Santa Barbara) is a unique combination of a church and a fortress. It boasts to be the place where Juan Pablo Duarte, The Father of the Country, was baptized. Repeatedly damaged by natural disasters, the church came under repair multiple times and new features were added until it is what it is today.

Constructed between 1512 and 1544, the Monasterio de San Francisco (San Francisco Monastery) was the first monastery in the Americas. It was built on a hill overlooking the city and housed the church, the convent, and the hospital of the Franciscan order. The monastery was significantly damaged by Sir Francis Drake’s demolition squad during his destructive raids on Santo Domingo in 1586, and two devastating earthquakes in 1673 and 1751 nearly finished it off, but it’s still a dramatic sight to behold and has a menacing, eerie feeling, especially at night. The building is occasionally used for special events such as concerts or school group activities.

Constructed between 1714 and 1745, the Panteón Nacional (National Pantheon) was originally known as the Convento de San Igancio de Loyola, a Jesuit monastery. Later it became a tobacco warehouse, a theatre, and a government office building. The Pantheon has a beautifully decorated Mausoleum where Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo planned on having himself placed (although it didn’t happen). Check out the Dominican Coat of Arms on the façade of the building and the copper chandelier, a donation from Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, in the center.

Named after Christopher Columbus, the Parque Colón (Columbus Park) is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. You can see them playing, flirting, or just sitting and relaxing while enjoying the gentle breeze.

Not far away from the Zona Colonial, the Plaza de la Cultura is home to a theater and several museums. Check out the works of 20th-century Dominican and foreign artists at the Museo de Arte Moderno and discover the history of the Dominican Republic’s first inhabitants at the Museo del Hombre Dominicano.

Avenida George Washington, better known as El Malecón, is considered to be “the largest discotheque in the world” and has first-class hotels, world-class eateries, casinos, and outdoor cafés.

For more information, visit Cheap All Inclusive Caribbean Vacation.

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