Santo Domingo is the capital of the Dominican Republic, and the first city founded by the Europeans in the Western Hemisphere. It preserves an important part of the cultural heritage withing the walls of what is called the ‘Colonial City’, which borders the Ozama River. Its impressive collection of 16th century buildings, including magnificent stone houses and churches reflect the last years of the Middle Ages, with its octagonal layout from 1502.
Located south of the island, the city is bathed by the waves and the breezes of the Caribbean Sea, which makes this city to be possessed of a dynamic and friendly atmosphere, excellent for outdoor activities.
It boasts activities to offer everyone – museums, ballet, opera, baseball games, and the greatest options of nightlife, restaurants and shopping to be found in the Dominican Republic. The most popular draw is the heart of the city, Zona Colonial (Colonial Zone), located on the western bank of the Río Ozama. Its here you’ll find cobblestone streets, historical monuments, and wonderful old world Spanish architecture that remains relatively intact.
The colonial zone of Santo Domingo is home to some of the first buildings in America, including the first cathedral of the new world, its first monastery, hospital, university, and first court of law. Santo Domingo is recognized as the birthplace of European civilization in America; UNESCO declared the Colonial City as world heritage. Picturesque cobblestone streets and centuries-old façades make up the Colonial City, housing cafés and bars, small hotels and famous restaurants. In the town square, bordered by the Palace of Diego Colón (el Alcázar), lies the museum Museo de las Casas Reales and the 17th century sundial. The Cafés and old streets come alive at night, welcoming residents and visitors alike seeking companionship and the escape from daily stress.
While there are dozens of things to see and do in the Colonial Zone, visitors should also see the museums housing the history of the country, such as the Museo del Hombre Dominicano (Museum of Dominican Man); and the Museum of Modern Art; the palm lined Malecón (boardwalk along the ocean), to get a taste of the city’s night life; the Quisqueya Stadium, to watch a game of the Dominican’s most beloved, national sport, baseball; and Los Tres Ojos (The Three Eyes), a group of large caves and freshwater lagoons, used by the country’s original inhabitants, the Tainos, for religious ceremonies; and Faro del Colon, built in the shape of a cross and also projects a cross shaped beam of light into the sky at night.
Santo Domingo has several parks, three of which are viewpoints and are located in the north, south and east of the city respectively.
The bright lights of the monumental Colón Lighthouse can be seen from the other side of the Ozama River. The mausoleum houses the remains of Christopher Columbus. At night, the monument projects laser lights as a giant cross in the sky.
Beyond its beautifully preserved colonial past, the cultural and artistic life of Santo Domingo is seen throughout its theaters, concert halls, and art galleries. The palaces of the Colonial City have been converted into fascinating museums: the Museo del Hombre Dominicano (Museum of the Dominican Man), modern art museum Museo de Arte Moderno, and natural history museum Museo de Historia y Geografía; as well as the national library , the Biblioteca Nacional, and the Teatro Nacional theater, home to concerts, ballets, operas, and prestigious international theatrical productions. Este amplio y verde oasis en el corazón de la ciudad agrupa cuatro museos –el Museo del Hombre Dominicano, el Museo de Arte Moderno, el Museo de Historia y Geografía, el Museo de Historia Natural– y la Biblioteca Nacional , así como el Teatro Nacional, escenario de conciertos, ballets, óperas y presentaciones teatrales de prestigio internacional.
The capital city also houses an interesting zoo, beautiful botanical garden, and a well-designed aquarium. The horse races at the Hipódromo V Centenario seats 15,000; the view also overlooks the beautiful Caribbean Sea. Only 1 kilometer, race fans can see the Formula 1 cars at the new track Autódromo de las Americas. On the outskirts, the park Los Tres Ojos also has lots of visitors. This park is made up of three crystal-clear lagoons, immersed inside an impressive cave surrounded by natural vegetation and plenty of stalagmites growing.
Come for vacation, leave with a new look Beauty Salons, gymnasiums, and spas of Santo Domingo are among some of the best in the world. Visit the Salón Daisy, where the technology can give you a new appearance; or visit the Body Shop, Gold’s Gym, Virginia Spa, and many others catering to your health and wellness.
For those that love to shop, Santo Domingo is a delight! Nearly every international brand takes prescence in this city. Though it may be difficult to find winter weather wear, you will find an abundance of beautiful, tropical outfits and bathing suits everywhere; along with the delectable Dominican jewelry made of amber, larimar, and bone. Parecería como que cada marca internacional quiere tener presencia en esta ciudad. Aunque se le hará difícil encontrar abrigos y protectores de orejas, sí encontrará abundancia de bellos ajuares tropicales y trajes de baños por doquier, así como la maravillosa joyería dominicana de ambar, larimar y hueso. When shopping for that ideal gift to bring back for your friends and family, don’t forget to take Dominican music, aromatic Dominican cigars, and mild Dominican rum, or even rich coffee, all at a great price.
Night Life of Santo Domingo
At dinner time, whether you feel like empanadas, street food, or attend a banquet in a luxurious restaurant, the cuisine of Santo Domingo rivals any major city in the world. You can enjoy a varied menu from almost anywhere around. Without a doubt, you will never forget the taste of the excellent Creole food: jambalaya, coconut fish, and our version of fried chicken cracklings.
After dinner, the options are endless. We hold various sporting events throughout the year, such as baseball, our national sport. Don’t miss the live merengue music at the new Boulevard del Expreso coming February 27. Dozens of casinos are hopping til early hours of the morning. Meanwhile, not far away, the night clubs feature rhythms of merengue (the national dance), salsa from the neighboring island of Puerto Rico, heard til the break of dawn, especially on the weekends.