Colonial City Walking
Tour Part 3
This section contains the oldest cathedral in continual use,
10 Calle de las Damas: Running north and south in front of Ozama fort, this is the hemisphere's oldest European paved street. It was paved precisely because, when Donna Maria and her ladies of the court arrived in 1509, there was nowhere for them to take their customary afternoon stroll. Paved streets were nothing new in the Americas when the Spanish arrived. The Incas had them a thousand years earlier.
11. Parque Colon: The shaded park, with a large Columbus statue, is a regular meeting place for residents. You'll also find a small horde of taxi drivers and persistent tourist guides. A cigar factory and one of the country's two Amber Museums border the park. The other Amber Museum is in Puerto Plata. This one is open daily 9-5.
12. Catedral Primada de America: The Cathedral of Our Lady of Santa Maria of the Incarnation is the Colonial City 's most famous landmark. Diego Columbus laid the first stone in 1514 but it wasn't until 1521 when a new bishop arrived that serious construction began. Building continued until 1540 under different architects who emphasized different styles. That's why the high vaulted ceiling is Gothic, the arches Romanesque and the ornamentation Baroque.
The cathedral has 14 small chapels, a main chapel and two altars. Instead of a cross vault, it has three naves. The interior underwent massive changes when Drake and his pirates used it as their base when they attacked the city in 1586. Anything that could be carried away left with Drake. The cathedral was restored in 1998.
Technically, this is not the oldest church in the New World . Mexico built one between 1524 and 1532 but it lasted only until 1573, when it was demolished to make way for another church, Catedral Metropolitano. The Santo Domingo cathedral definitely is the oldest in continual use. Open daily 9-4. No shorts, tank tops or similar attire.
13. Iglesia de Santa Clara : The hemisphere's first nunnery, built in 1552 and thoroughly sacked by Drake in the 1580s, was restored with funds from the Spanish monarchy. The Renaissance-style portal has a bust of St. Claire. Closed except during Sunday mass.
14. Casa de Tostado y Museo de la Familia: Formerly the home of Francisco Tostado, this 16th century building with its combination of Moorish and Gothic ornamentation is now a museum containing 19th century furniture and artifacts. Open daily 9-2; closed Wednesday. Tostado and his family made their fortune as owners of sugar cane plantations.