Santo Domingo de Guzman, founded by Don Bartholomew Colombo, Governor of the Frontier Land in 1496, is the New World's first ever city. The 'Zona Colonial', built in 1502 by Nicolas de Ovando, is a city within the city which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the capital city's monument-rich historical enclave. It only covers 1 sq mi but guarantees delightful strolls. Its cobbled streets and the hundred year old façades of colonial houses form the backdrop for picturesque bars and cafés, restaurants and hotels sometimes housed within historic monuments. Half a day, at a fast walking pace, is necessary to visit the zone, though it is also nice to take an evening stroll, when the bars get lively and the monuments light up, except when there is a power cut, which is fairly often out of tourist season (July-August), due to financial restraints.
The points of interest are concentrated within three main streets:
In the heart of the pedestrian street Calle de Las Damas, you will be able to admire the old fortress Fuerte Del Homenaje (also known as 'Fortaleza'), Casa de Bastidas and Palacio de los Capitanes, or Casa de Ovando which houses a superb hotel, and its famous Isabellian-Gothic style gate.
Calle Isabela la Catolica is the street where Santa Maria la Menor's cathedral stands, built in 1518, Primada de America (the island's emblematic monument), Palacio de Borgella, San Francisco's impressive remains, Casa Del Duarte and Santa Barbara's church.
In Calle Padre Billini, do not miss Regina Angelorum's church, the building which took over 200 years to build, Los Dominicos's church, seat of the first university in the Americas, Casa de Tostado, Santa Clara's church, Casa de Las Monedas and finally the house of Tapao with its legend of the mysterious man in the iron mask.
The paved streets and age-old façades of the colonial houses now provide a setting for cafes, restaurants, and hotels, some of which are actually located inside the monuments thems© Carlos Rodrigues / EASYVOYAGE
Santo Domingo de Guzmán was founded in 1496 by Bartholomew Columbus, Governor of the Frontier Lands, and was the first town to be built by settlers in the New World.© OT Republique Dominicaine
This was the first monastery and the first centre of higher education in the New World. Its impressive ruins still stand to this day.© Raphael RICHARD / EASYVOYAGE
Many concerts and cultural events are organised in front of this building, which is surrounded by vast open green spaces.© Raphael RICHARD / EASYVOYAGE
The area only covers one square mile but is a beautiful place for a walk.© OT Republique Dominicaine