Colonial Zone, Santo Domingo Zona Colonial
Zona Colonial in Santo Dominto has an impressive showing of historic ruins, colonial buildings and monuments including the Americas' first cathedral, fortress, hospital, monastery, university, palace and street.The Spanish conquest of the Americas' spread from the old sector of Santo Domingo; Columbus's son Diego was the colony's first governor.
Museum of the Royal Houses
The Museum of the Royal Houses in Santo Domingo is an enormous brick and coral building with high ceilings and wide staircases sweeping up to a grand salon hung with portraits of the Spanish kings. It originally consisted of two buildings, the Palace of the Captain-General and Palace of the Royal Audiencia (similar to a Supreme Court), which were both built in the beginning of the 16th C and joined by a single facade in the late 18th C.Once the colonial administrative center for all the Spanish West Indies, Casa Reales is now a museum featuring Colonial era artifacts, including a re-creation of the governor's receiving room, maps, weapons and military uniforms.
Address: Calle Las Damas, Dominican Republic
Opening hours: 9am-5pm
Royal Audience Chamber
The Real Audiencia (Royal Audience Chamber) in Santo Domingo was established as a superior court with jurisdiction over the New World in 1511 by King Ferdinand of Spain.
The Sundial in Santo Domingo was built by governor Francisco Rubio y Peñaranda in 1753 i and is one of the few left in the world.It was positioned so that officials of the Casa Reales could see the time by glancing out their windows.
Alcazar De Colón (Alcazar Museum)
Once the center of colonial power this Gothic-Moorish 22-room palace was built for Diego Columbus in 1510.Its architecture also combines influences from the Spanish and Italian Renaissance.The structure includes 72 windows and is built of indigenous coral and rock.No nails were used in its construction.Alcazar De Colón is open to the public and houses many fine treasures of the colonial era.Adjacent is the Alcazar Museum, housing religious and colonial art objects.
Casa Tostado (Museum of the Dominican Family)
Casa del Tostado is a lovely two-story colonial home built by Francisco de Tostado de la Peña, a poet and professor. He was killed at the hands of Sir Francis Drake's troops in 1586.Known as one of the most beautiful houses in the Zona Colonial, this Gothic/Moorish building now houses the Museum of the Dominican Family of the 19th C including an exhibition of furniture from different eras.
Convent of the Dominicans
The cross-shaped Convent of the Dominicans contains outstanding altars. The building dates from 1510 and in 1538 the first university in the New World, dedicated to St. Thomas Aquino, was founded there; though the building no longer survives.The convent was the home of Father Antonio de Montesinos, the first person in the New World to speak out against the Spaniards' abuse of country's indigenous people.
Museum of the Royal Shipyards
Extending for a full city block, the Museo de las Atarazanas initially served as a customs depot, an arsenal and later as a warehouse. Constructed in the first half of the 16th C, it now houses the Museum of Marine Archaeology, with items recovered from several hundred years of shipwrecks, plus shops, art galleries, pubs, and restaurants.
Amber World Museum
The Amber World Museum in Santo Domingo uses a wide variety of display methods and interactive technology to convey historical and scientific information about amber, the island's official gem. Included are examples of amber in its natural state and set in jewelry.
Calle Las Damas
Guarding the entrance to Santo Domingo and overlooking the Ozama River is Fortaleza Ozama, the oldest military construction in the New World.Construction began on the fort in 1502. It was well-built enough to serve as a prison until the 1960s when it was restored and opened to the public.
House of Bastidas
In 1512, Rodrigo de Bastidas was the Honorary Mayor of the city of Santo Domingo and what used to be his house today houses an art gallery containing permanent exhibits of ceramics and archeological discoveries.
Dominican Bibliophilist Society
In front of Casa Bastidas is a building c 1504 that houses the Sociedad Dominicana de Bibliófilos (Dominican Bibliophilist Society) who are devoted to the rescue of Dominican literary works and to reprinting them for distribution among its members.
Tower of Homage
Torre del Homenaje is a tower with 2m/6.5ft thick walls built between 1502 and 1507. Adjacent to Fortaleza Ozama, it was the Dominican Republic's highest building at 18m/59ft in the 16th C.
Avenida del Puerto
The area around the cruise ship terminal on Avenida del Puerto is surrounded by discos and clubs. Further down the Avenida del Puerto lies the colonial city, an enclave with alleyways and cobblestone streets.
Calle El Conde
The Casa del Cordón c 1503 is the first Spanish-style home built in the Americas.The house derives its name from the stone cord (cordón) symbol of the Franciscan order, sculpted above the entrance. Today it is a cultural center.
House of Juan Pablo Duarte
Restored to the 19th C, Casa Duarte houses a museum highlighting the important moments in the life of the founding father of the Dominican Republic and displays many of Juan Pablo Duarte's belongings.
House of Nicolas Ovando
Fine masonry, arches, fountains, balconies and courtyards are part of the palatial 16th C home of Governor Nicolas de Ovando. Possibly erected in 1506, the building has been restored to its 16th C glory and has been turned into a hotel.
Parque Independencia in Santo Domingo is a big city square and a popular gathering place whose most prominent feature is the National Pantheon, where the nations heroes are buried.
Church of the Jesuit Fathers and National Pantheon
A Neoclassical-Renaissance structure built in the mid-18th C as a Jesuit church, the Iglesia de los Padres was restored and converted into the National Pantheon in 1956.During the church's history it has been used as a tobacco warehouse, housing for the San Fernando seminary, public offices and a theater for independence fighters in 1860.It is now the resting place for leading national heroes, including Duarte, Sánchez and Mella.The dictator Trujillo intended to be buried in the Pantheon; ironically, it is the remains of his assassins who are found here.
San Francisco Monastery Ruins
Parque Colón, one of Santo Domingo's main gathering places has a bronze statue of Columbus at its center.
First Cathedral of America (Cathedral of Santa María)
Santo Domingo boasts the oldest existing cathedral in the Americas, Catedral Primada de América also known as the Cathedral of Santa María, was built in phases between 1514 and 1544.The cathedral's design comprises late Gothic and Renaissance elements.For hundred of years the remains of Christopher Columbus and his son were supposedly-interred near the cathedral's main altar until their removal to the Faro de Colon.
The 19th C Palacio de Borgellá in Santo Domingo, once the seat of executive power, now houses administrative offices and a convenient post office.
Statue of Christopher Columbus
The bronze of Christopher Columbus by was sculpted by E. Gilbert, a French artist; at his feet there is a smaller statue of the Taíno queen Anacaona.
Fort San Gil
The three-sided Fort San Gil was built to defend Santo Domingo against pirates and offers good views out to the sea.
House of Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés planned the conquest of Mexico from the chambers of his house, now the Casa Francia, (French Embassy). Concerts are sometimes held here.
Plaza España surrounds a statue of Nicolas de Ovando, a founder of Santo Domingo. The square is bordered by exquisite colonial houses and upscale restaurants.