Catedral Primada de América
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The Catedral Primada de América or the Holy Cathedral Church of Our Lady of Saint Mary of the Incarnation (Calle Arzobispo Meriño, Parque Colón, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. daily, free) had its first stone placed by Diego Columbus himself in 1514. Construction went on until 1540, with many different architects adding to the combination of Gothic, Roman, and baroque styles.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to know exactly what it used to look like inside because when Sir Francis Drake came to town with his greedy band of pirates, they set up camp inside the cathedral and took everything, including what was nailed down, with them when they left.
Dominicans are very proud of the fact that this cathedral is widely considered the first cathedral of the New World. Whether that is the historical truth or not is a source of contention that most Dominicans wave off with a patriotic flick of the wrist. Check out the great arching ceilings, sculptures, paintings, and 14 chapels inside. Make sure you’re not wearing shorts or a tank top.
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition