By far, the Caribbean's most interesting city. With so much more
to see and do!
The oldest city in the New World as well as the Caribbean 's largest, Santo Domingo probably has more historical buildings clustered in its old Colonial City than the rest of the Caribbean combined.
The first buildings were constructed in 1496, although the city's official founding didn't occur until two years later when Columbus ' brother, Bartolome, settled on the eastern bank of the Rio Ozama.
The Alcazar de Colon built by Columbus' son Diego in 1510-14 has been completely restored.
Columbus himself was buried in the old city in the 1540s, and his reputed bones now rest in a multi-million dollar lighthouse, the Faro a Colon.
The grandiose monument looks impressive at night when its brilliant beams of light shoot skyward like the exhaust of a space ship. At least when the government bothers to pay its electric bills.
Power shortages are a problem these days throughout the DR because of the current political situation. A shame that a country so rich in natural resources has a beggar government.
Some Dining Suggestions for when the lights are on or off.
Not far from Faro a Colon is Parque Los Tres Ojos de Agua (the Three Eyes of Water), a series of four interconnected caves with cenotes, stalactites and stalagmites.
Vendors outside hawk sculptures supposedly made from stalactites. If these souvenirs are authentic, then a lot of caves are being destroyed somewhere and this needs to be halted.
The Malecon (waterfront) near the old city contains the huge monument built to Fray Anton de Montesinos who protested the abuse of the Indians by the Spanish.
Off Ave. Gomez is the ornate coral pink National Palace built by former dictator Rafael Trujillo. It can be entered only as part of a tour, which must be arranged in advance.
Just a few blocks from the Palace is the excellent Museum of the Dominican Man with many Taino exhibits. All explanations are in Spanish but English guides are sometimes available.
Well outside the central city, the National Botanical Gardens are a huge complex that can be enjoyed on a small tram-like train.
The equally fine National Zoological Park can also be explored by tram. African animals are the big draw, and the layout is well done. Animals roam freely on land surrounded by deep ravines.
in the Colonial City
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