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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Tourism Information

Santo Domingo is an enchanting city of modern sophistication, old world charisma, and Latin charm. In the capital of the Dominican Republic, dazzling casinos, pulsating night life, superb dining, fashionable shopping and top class hotels, are set off by a rich colonial past evidenced in the numerous museums and restored historic buildings. Santo Domingo is the ideal spot for travelers interested in the old and the new.

The Colonial City is the perfect starting point for visitors to discover Santo Domingo. Here, between Independence Park and the Ozama River, they will find the first city built in the New World by European settlers, including Columbus's brother, Bartholomew and his son, Diego Columbus.

The first street ever built in the Americas is Calle de Las Damas, the site of numerous historic buildings including the Ozama Fortress, the oldest fortress in the Americas. There is also the house of Nicolás de Ovando, governor of Santo Domingo in the early 1500's and a ruthless warrior against the Taino Indians. Of great historical interest is the Museum of the Royal Houses, the restored 16th century palace of the Spanish Court, which features a wonderful view into the past. Nearby is the Alcázar de Colón (Castle of Columbus) built by Diego Columbus and his wife Maria de Toledo, niece of the Spanish King Ferdinand. A few streets over in the center of the walled city, visitors will find the Cathedral Basilica Santa Maria la Menor, pronounced the first cathedral in the New World by Pope Paul III in 1542. While touring the colonial city, visitors can learn all about amber, the stone made even more famous by Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park film. The Amber Museum of Calle Arz. Meriño features exceptional educational exhibits of this semi-precious jewel.

From the old to the new, Santo Domingo takes visitors on a trip through the centuries with its dozen of national museums celebrating all aspects of Dominican life past and present. Many of these museums are located in the Plaza de la Cultura, a large park area where visitors can stroll easily from one museum to another. They include The Museum of the Dominican Man, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum of History and Geography, and the National Museum of Natural History. Visitors will enjoy the fascinating look into the history of the Dominican people including original Taino artifacts, information on the Spanish conquerors, and the African slaves at the Museum of the Dominican Man, as well as the impressive collection of modern art that gives a new dimension into Dominican society at the Museum of Modern Art.

Another site not to be missed is the Faro a Colón (Columbus Lighthouse) an impressive structure in the shape of a cross which was constructed to mark the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' Landing in the Americas in 1492. It houses his remains, and features numerous exhibits. After exploring it by day, it is exciting to view the Lighthouse at night from the Colonial City, when the powerful lights are reflected into the sky.

Other daytime sightseeing options are the National Aquarium, the Botanical Gardens, the National Zoo, and Los Tres Ojos, an impressive 50-foot deep cave with three lagoons surrounded by stalagmites and lush vegetation.
At night, the city unfolds its magic carpet of choices for visitors interested in dining, the arts, and dancing into the wee hours. Santo Domingo's dining scene rivals any cosmopolitan city around the world. A truly international mix, visitors can find every type of cuisine as well as savory Dominican dishes at superb restaurants offering great value. In addition, top theatrical, musical, and dance performances can be enjoyed at the National Theatre, and smaller theatres around town. Afterwards, visitors can merengue and salsa the night away at the upscale dance clubs in town including the greatest sensation of all-- the Guácara Taina. This multi-level cultural center/disco is set in a massive underground cave.

Recently, the city has generated an influx of cafes where the local crowd gathers to have a late night bite, coffee or drinks, and to talk, mingle and dance the night away on outdoor patios or terraces. Café Atlántico is one of the most popular, and surprisingly, Monday night has the biggest crowd. Sidewalk cafés dot the city, like Columbus Bar on the Calle Roberto Pastoriza for people watching on any evening.

Places to stay in Santo Domingo are as varied as things to do. From the old-world elegance of the grand Hotel Embajador to the efficiency of the Hotel Plaza and the glamour of the Sheraton, with its wall of falling water right across from the Caribbean Sea, Santo Domingo's hotels are suited to all tastes and budgets. Other wise choices for the budget-conscious include the Hotel Cervantes, the Hotel Continental, Hotel Napolitano, and the Aparta Hotel Plaza Colonial.

The exuberance of all that is Santo Domingo's past and present awaits discovery by travelers hungry for the rich history, culture, and pleasures of this tropical island.

- Boca Chica