Particularly well restored, the first street of the New World owes its name to the ladies of the court who would stroll along it, Maria de Toledo for example, vice queen of the colony, King of Spain's niece and wife of Diego Colon, who was Christopher Columbus' son. Nowadays, visitors follow the steps of these ladies along this superb and enchanting street for a trip back in time, which seems to have stopped in this peaceful place, hardly disturbed by children playing in front of the picturesque façades. Calle Las Damas street is lined with numerous colonial houses and several interesting buildings. It starts in Plaza de Espana square where the Alcazar de Colon stands. Other than Casa de Ovando, the Ozama fortress and the chapel Nuestra senora de los remedios, it also holds Casa de Francia, a 15th century gothic building which first belonged to governor Nicolas de Ovando. Hernan Cortès prepared his expedition to Mexico in this house. Restored in 1932, it was lent to France in 1978 for fifty years, and was used as a cultural centre before France set up their embassy there. Opposite the Nicolas de Ovando Sofitel stands the National Pantheon, which shelters the remains of Dominican historic heroes, especially those involved in the War of Independence. Originally a Jesuit church built between 1714 and 1745, the building was successively a tobacco warehouse, a seminary and a theatre in 1860 before being turned into the Pantheon in 1955 by dictator Trujillo. The central nave is in the shape of a cross with side chapels. The dome above the crossing is decorated with an impressive bronze chandelier offered as a gift to dictator Trujillo by Spanish Generalissimo Franco. On one end of Calle las Damas street, as you arrive at Alcazar de Colon square, you can see a sundial made in 1753 on the orders of Governor Francisco Rubio y Penaranda, and surveilled by four canons.
A wander down this peaceful little street will take you on a journey back in time, which seems to have stood still here, the peace barely broken by the handful of children playing in front of the picturesque façades.© C. Rodrigues
Calle Las Damas, which starts at the Plaza de Espana where the Alcazar de Colon stands, is lined with numerous colonial houses and several interesting buildings.© C. Rodrigues
The first stone house in the New World is now home to the Dominican Popular Bank, but don't be afraid to push open the wonderful wooden door and take a peep at the treasures inside.© C. Rodrigues
A 16th century UNESCO-listed palace and former residence of the first Governor of the Americas, which has since been converted into a luxury hotel.© C. Rodrigues
This former Jesuit church was built between 1714 and 1745 and now houses the possessions of heroes from Dominican history, notably the War of Independence.© C. Rodrigues