Santo Domingo. History, Culture And Nature

After „conquering“ Pico Duarte, we keep driving south to Santo Domingo de Guzmán, the capital and largest city in the  Dominican Republic and the most populated metropolis in the entire Caribbean region.

Alcazar de Colon, the oldest Viceregal residence in America. The building houses the Museo Alcázar de Diego Colón, whose collection exhibits the Caribbean's most important ensemble of European late medieval and Renaissance works of art

Alcazar de Colon, the oldest Viceregal residence in America. The building houses the Museo Alcázar de Diego Colón, whose collection exhibits the Caribbean’s most important ensemble of European late medieval and Renaissance works of art

Founded by Christopher Columbus’s younger brother Bartholomew Columbus in 1496, the city is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas and the headquarters of Spanish colonial rule in the New World.

Street outside the the French Embassy, in a building said to have been the house of Hernán Cortés.

Street outside the the French Embassy, in a building said to have been the house of Hernán Cortés.

Santo Domingo is the site of the first university, cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress in the New World and the city’s Colonial Zone is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

Ruins of the Franciscan Monastery (Monasterio de San Francisco)

Ruins of the Franciscan Monastery (Monasterio de San Francisco)

We wish we had at least one week to spend here, even a month, as there are innumerable sites, museums, tourist attractions, and cultural events worth seeing in Santo Domingo. But we only have one day. We decide the best thing to do in a day is visit the Colonial Zone and the National Botanical Garden.

.

A church in the Colonial Zone

The Ciudad Colonial is located on the west bank of the Ozama River. It covers less than 5 square kilometers where the concentration of colonial landmarks is overwhelming.

.

Panteon de la Patria in a former Jesuit Church

We walk on the oldest paved street in the New World dating from 1502, Calle las Damas to Parque Colon, a square that borders a 16th-century Cathedral. We see fortresses, cathedrals, ruins and building dating from 1500’s and 1600’s.

Parque Colon and the Cathedral.

Parque Colon and Cathedral.

After visiting the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo we spend a few hours in the National Botanical Garden.

.

.

Named after Dr. Rafael María Moscoso, the first Dominican botanist who wrote a catalog of the plants of the Spanish island in 1943, the Botanical Garden occupies a large territory of a few square mile and was founded in 1976 to study and preserve the varied plant life of the Dominican Republic.

.

.

We take a small train tour inside this plant sanctuary among bromeliads, ferns, palms, orchids, and aquatic plants. A favorite spot is the Japanese garden with its small island in the middle of a green pond.

.

.

We left a small part of out hearts in Santo Domingo, a site of so much history, culture and beauty. One day we will surely return.

Share