Sandra Scott Travels: Stroll Through The History of Santo Domingo

Parque Colon

Last week I asked: Should you visit Santo Domingo?

Yes!

Santo Domingo, the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic, is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas and the first seat of Spanish colonial rule in the New World.

Alcazar de Colon

The city’s Colonial Zone is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Many people go to resorts in the Dominican Republic but I think every trip to the DR should include a few days in the historic area of the city.

Alcazar de Colon: The home, one of the oldest in the Americas, was built under the direction of Diego Colon, son of Christopher Columbus, in 1510.

The beautifully restored building is now a museum with a fascinating collection of European Late Medieval and Renaissance art.

Although many of the furniture items are reproductions, they give visitors an idea of what life was like in Colonial Santo Domingo.

city tour

Museo de las Casas Reales: The building dates back to the sixteenth century and has a comprehensive display of cultural artifacts from the earliest days of the Spanish conquest to the formation of the Dominican Republic.

It was home to the treasury, governor’s office, and courts.

History in Motion: Hop on one of the “Chu Chu” trollies for a city tour called “500 years of History in 45 Minutes.”

Chocolate Museum

During the tour the narrator provides insight into local history with stories about the people who once lived there.

A must-do.

There are also horse-drawn carriages available for a private tour.

Chocolate Museum: Learn about chocolate from the cacao bean to the chocolate bar.

The museum depicts the process from start to finish.

Plan to participate in one of their workshops and make your own chocolate.

Take a walk

If you don’t have time for a workshop you can always buy chocolate items including Cacao Liqueur and chocolate bars.

El Conde: Stroll down the eight block pedestrian walkway lined with Art Deco buildings that house a variety of small shops.

It extends from Parque Colon to Parque Independencia and is one of the city’s oldest streets.

It is the place to buy locally made souvenirs and other “treasures.”

Cathedral Primada de America: The first cathedral, consecrated in 1540, was built in the Gothic style.

Parque Colon

The cathedral is home to a treasury of art, painting, monuments and tombs of archbishops from the colonial era.

It is a favorite place for weddings.

There are many other churches in the city.

Parque Colon: The park is the hub of all the activity in the historical zone.

It is centered by a statue of Christopher Columbus.

Interestingly Columbus’ back is to the cathedral and he faces the Hard Rock Café – two faces of the city.

Sit on one of the benches to soak in the local ambiance.

The Lighthouse: Where is Columbus buried?

The Lighthouse

According to one version his remains are entombed in a newer part of the city in the towering lLighthouse which was built to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas.

It was built in the shape of a cross and the powerful beam of light is said to be seen in neighboring Puerto Rico.

Los Tres Ojos: While not in the historic district the limestone cave called The Three Eyes in English is a series of three lakes one of which has a Garden of Eden look and is reached by a unique guide-propelled raft.

The Lighthouse

The lakes are connected by a series of walkways and steps.

And more: There are a plethora of museums some deal with amber, larimar and rum.

Stroll the Calle de Damas, the oldest paved street in the Americas.

Take note of the many buildings with traditional balconies.

Travel Trivia Tease™: Where can you find the Old Florida?

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!