The streets and buildings of Santo Domingo, the First City of the Americas, bear witness to 507 years of history and traditions.
Some of the historic buildings that line the streets of the city’s Colonial Zone were the first offices built by the Spanish colonizers to manage their new colonies in the Americas, back in the 16th century.
Because of its rich history, the capital of the Dominican Republic was recognized by UNESCO in 1990 as a World Heritage Site.
The Colonial Section is one of the country’s most important tourism attractions.
The city was founded by Nicolas de Ovando in 1502, one decade after the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the island of Hispaniola.
City of Many Firsts
Visitors to Santo Domingo’s Colonial Section will appreciate the following:
“Casa Del Cordón”
This structure is said to be the first stone house built in the Americas and, most probably, the first two-story structure. Its name comes from the stone cordon that was placed above the structure’s main entrance. The cordon is associated with the Franciscan Order of the Catholic Church. The structure is currently an office building used by a private bank.
First Cathedral of the Americas
Built with stone and bricks, the Cathedral was the first to be built in the Americas. The layout of the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo was inspired by drawings made by Leonardo Da Vinci, and adapted by architect Alonso Rodriguez, who later designed the Cathedral of Mexico.
The Dominican Convent
This was the first Convent to be built in the continent. Its architecture is truly inspiring. It was in this building that the Catholic Friar Anton de Montesinos delivered the first sermon demanding respect for the rights of the native population.
The Ruins of San Francisco
The ruins of what was once the first monastery of the Americas are still there. The entrance to the building also features a stone cordon representing the Order of St. Francis.
St. Nicolás de Bari Hospital
In 1503 the island’s first governor, Nicolas de Ovando, ordered the construction of the first hospital built in the New World. Today, the only things that remain from the original structure are the walls. The hospital was built for the poor.
“Las Damas” Street
The Colonial Section is also home to the New World’s first cobblestone street. Its name, “Las Damas,” means “The Ladies” in English. It was named after the ladies that every afternoon would take a daily stroll through the cobblestone street.
This fortress was the first military structure built by the Spanish Crown in the Americas. Its five-story tower allowed military personnel to monitor the port and surrounding areas. It was the first residence of Diego Columbus, Christopher’s brother, and his wife.