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Santo Domingo is the ideal spot for travelers interested in the old and the new.
The Colonial City has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990 and is the perfect starting point for visitors to discover Santo Domingo. Here, between Independence Park and the Ozama River, you will find the first city built in the New World by European settlers, including Columbus’s brother, Bartholomew and his son, Diego Columbus. The first street ever built in the Americas is Calle de Las Damas, the site of numerous historic buildings including the Ozama Fortress, the oldest fortress in the Americas. There is also the house of Nicolas de Ovando, governor of Santo Domingo in the early 1500’s and a ruthless warrior against the Taino Indians. Of great historical interest is the Museum of the Royal Houses, the restored 16th century palace of the Spanish Court, which features a wonderful view into the past. Nearby is the Alcazar de Colon (Castle of Columbus) built by Diego Columbus and his wife Maria de Toledo, niece of the Spanish King Ferdinand. A few streets over in the center of the walled city, visitors will find the Cathedral Basilica Santa Maria la Menor, pronounced the first cathedral in the New World by Pope Paul III in 1542.
From the old to the new, Santo Domingo takes visitors on a trip through the centuries with its numerous national museums celebrating all aspects of Dominican life past and present. Many of these museums are located in the Plaza de la Cultura, a large park area where visitors can stroll easily from one museum to another. They include The Museum of the Dominican Man, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum of History and Geography, and the National Museum of Natural History. Visitors will enjoy the fascinating look into the history of the Dominican people including original Taino artifacts, information on the Spanish conquerors, and the African slaves at the Museum of the Dominican Man, as well as the impressive collection of modern art that gives a new dimension into Dominican society at the Museum of Modern Art.
Another site not to be missed is the Faro a Colon (Columbus Lighthouse) an impressive structure in the shape of a cross which was constructed to mark the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ Landing in the Americas in 1492. It houses his remains, and features numerous exhibits. After exploring it by day, it is exciting to view the Lighthouse at night from the Colonial City, when the powerful lights are reflected into the sky.
Other daytime sightseeing options are the National Aquarium, the Botanical Gardens, the National Zoo, and Los Tres Ojos, an impressive 50-foot deep cave with three lagoons surrounded by stalagmites and lush vegetation.
At night, the city unfolds its magic carpet of choices for visitors interested in dining, the arts, and dancing into the wee hours. Santo Domingo’s dining scene rivals any cosmopolitan city around the world. A truly international mix, visitors can find every type of cuisine as well as savory Dominican dishes at superb restaurants offering great value. In addition, top theatrical, musical, and dance performances can be enjoyed at the National Theatre, and smaller theatres around town. Afterwards, visitors can merengue and salsa the night away at the upscale dance clubs in town including the greatest sensation of all the Guacara Taina. This multi-level cultural center/disco is set in a massive underground cave.
Recently, the city has generated an influx of cafes where the local crowd gathers to have a late night bite, coffee or drinks, and to talk, mingle and dance the night away on outdoor patios or terraces. Cafe Atlantico is one of the most popular, and most surprisingly, Monday night has the biggest crowd. Today nightlife is centered around Trio Cafe’, Montecristi Cafe’, Karamba Bar and Ocho Puertas. Bars and cafes such as these are a great way to get know the city and meet the locals.
The exuberance of all that is Santo Domingo’s past and present awaits discovery from the rich history, culture and pleasures of this tropical island.
Old world meets the new in Santo Domingo and both are within a stones throw of each other. Take in the rich cultural history by day and by night enjoy a cosmopolitan nightlife from the bustling restaurants to the numerous bars, jazz clubs and night clubs. Santo Domingo is the most vibrant city in the entire Caribbean, come experience it for yourself.