Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, is the Caribbean’s most culturally rich destination where modern attractions are juxtaposed against nearby exquisite beaches. This is the oldest city of the New World and Christopher Columbus’s first permanent settlement after his “discovery” of the Americas. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage in 1992, Santo Domingo is a city of many firsts in the New World with the first cathedral, paved road, university, hospital, stone home, tavern, etc.
Board a comfortable air-conditioned bus and, side by side with an expert tourist guide, you will soon take over the First City of the Americas, learning historical facts of this modern-day metropolitan city.
Our first stop will be at the Tres Ojos (Three Eyes) National Park with underground caves and lagoons used by the Taino Indians (the Dominican Republic’s original inhabitants). From there we’ll make a quick photo stop at the Columbus Lighthouse, built in 1992 on the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s landing in the New World. We’re then off to the oldest streets of the Western Hemisphere in Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone, a 16 square block neighborhood oozing with Dominican history and culture.
Our first peek at the Colonial Zone comes at the Columbus Palace. Completed in 1514, it was the home of Christopher Columbus’s son, Diego. From the Palace we walk through the historic Plaza de Espana and onto Calle Las Damas (the first paved street of the New World). Roam freely around this busy pedestrian street, a 10 block cobblestones walk chuck-full of shops, restaurants and an eclectic mix of people. In this area you can see the most notable and stately edifices and monuments built from the Colonial period to now. Our ultimate destination is one of the most important sites in the Dominican Republic: the First Cathedral of the New World.
Lunch is then served at one of the top Dominican restaurants in Santo Domingo, known for it’s excellent home style cooking and typical dance performances by the waiters and waitresses. The portable stove, the bonfire, the wood-burning oven, clay jars and the güira – all elements defining Dominican culture – take a center stage here. After lunch, we’ll pass by some of the modern areas of the capital and the National Palace where the Dominican President and the highest level government officials have their offices.
To end the day, we’ll make a little stop in a gift shop selling nearly every Dominican keepsake imaginable.
With our tour to Santo Domingo, you’ll experience the city’s rich history and the daily life of everyday Dominicans in their capital of 3 million inhabitants. Interesting culturally, this great sightseeing activity offers a complete experience of the Dominican Republic.