Built in 1512 by Franciscan monks, the monastery of San Francisco was both the first monastery and the first higher education centre (1538) of the New World. The Franciscans were actually the first religious order to settle on Hispaniola Island. They arrived as early as Christopher Columbus' second voyage. Partly burnt down when the city was destroyed in 1586 by Sir Francis Drake, it did not survive the 1673 earthquake. Nevertheless, impressive and stirring ruins are still visible and remain a popular place for walking. Many concerts and cultural events are organised in front of the building, which is surrounded by vast open green spaces. The old well, as well as a reservoir where water was stocked for the city's inhabitants, still exists. It is possible to catch a glimpse of Alonso de Ojeda's gravestone, one of the intrepid conquistador captains, under the ruined vault. Legend has it that in an act of profound humility, he requested to be buried near the entrance of the convent so that everyone could walk over him!
Many concerts and cultural events are held in front of the building, which is surrounded by vast green spaces.© O T Republique Dominicaine
Partly burnt down in 1586, the monastery did not survive the 1673 earthquake. Today, it is nothing but ruins.© O T Republique Dominicaine