Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic: brimming with history and monuments to visit

Santo Domingo is on a roll. After years of being somewhat forgotten, the capital of the Dominican Republic is undergoing a major transformation, spurred in part by the renovation of its old city and the development of new, more modern neighborhoods. Today, it is one of the most dynamic capitals in the Caribbean, just like Panama City or San Juan. This capital is rich in history and monuments to visit.

Santo Domingo: a historical city

As the first European colony in the Americas, Santo Domingo is one of the cities where colonization has left the biggest mark. It has many fascinating monuments that have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The Cathedral of Santo Domingo, also distinguished as the Primate of the Americas, for being the first basilica built on the new continent, is one of the greatest symbols of the city. Built between 1510 and 1540, it is one of the few Gothic-style cathedrals in the Americas. In addition, Christopher Columbus was buried here for over two centuries before his tomb was moved to Havana and later to Seville. However, many believe that the admiral’s remains (or at least part of them) were here until 1992 when they were moved to the Columbus Lighthouse. The cathedral is located in the Columbus Park Plaza, which is a good starting point for your visit, as it is right in the heart of the city.

Visit Fortaleza ozama in Santo Domingo

Next to the cathedral and the banks of the Ozama River, you’ll find this medieval fortress, one of Santo Domingo’s most important enclaves and the first permanent military structure in America. It was built between 1502 and 1508 to protect the city from pirate and privateer attacks. Save some energy to climb the nearly 90-foot high tower, where you can enjoy an unobstructed view of the Santo Domingo harbor. You can also venture into the dungeons and interior tunnels where prisoners were kept out of sight.

Take a tour of Baluarte del Conde in Santo Domingo

Ten minutes from the cathedral, you’ll find the Baluarte del Conde, or Count’s Rampart, a military fortress that still preserves part of the old city wall. It is located in Independence Park. This structure also includes the Puerta de la Misericordia, or Gate of Mercy; the Fuerte de la ConcepciĆ³n, or Fortress of Conception; and the Altar of Patria, or Altar of the Homeland. Moreover, this place was the scene of one of the most important episodes in the history of the Dominican Republic: it was the place where the struggle for the independence of the country took place.