- Where to Go
- The Best of the Dominican Republic
- A Nature Lover’s Dominican Trek
- The Sexiest Dominican Beaches
- Historical Dominican Road Trip
- A Dominican Culture Tour
- Carnaval and Its Masks
- Planning Your Dominican Wedding
- Dominican Adventures
- Golfing the Dominican Republic
- Dominican Music and Dance
- La Ruta del Mango
- Day-Tripping in Monte Plata
- The Best Small Resorts
The Ciudad Colonial of Santo Domingo is the most glorious of the highlights in the capital and should not be missed. Along the western bank of the Río Ozama, where its waters meet the Caribbean Sea, lie 11 square blocks that make up the fountainhead of colonialism. Fortresses still stand guard over the harbor where Columbus’s men finally docked their armada back in 1498.
Today the district offers tourists a walk back into history to when the conquistadors ambled along to the clinking of their armor and the gold in their pouches. Sixteenth-century architecture cohabits with the speeding mopeds of the new millennium. The smell of luscious Dominican cuisine curls through the air around the vendors and through the windows of museums.
With some buildings dating back to the early 1500s, efforts have been made to maintain the historical integrity or, in some cases, reincarnate them into hotels, pubs, cafés, and restaurants. But one thing is certain; you will find many authentic New World “firsts” here. Since it is the first European city in the New World, Santo Domingo boasts the first university, hospital, cathedral, and palace, to name a few.
Amid the historical surroundings is some of the best shopping in the city, on Calle El Conde and throughout the Ciudad Colonial. From cigar shops, small bookstores, and music stores to art, jewelry, and clothing, the Ciudad Colonial satisfies the interests and purchasing urges of even the hardest to please travelers.
After a long day of discovering the diversions available in the old city, finding a cozy spot amid the narrow cobblestone streets to relax and enjoy the lull that sets in with dusk is not a hard task to accomplish. Romantic courtyard restaurants and pubs offer the respite you’ll need before setting out later in the evening should you decide to take advantage of the area’s livelier nighttime entertainment choices. Once again, the Ciudad Colonial comes through for everyone. Karaoke singers, club-goers, and jazz enthusiasts have no worries; you will be satisfied.
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition