The International Bureau of Cultural Capitals has included on its list of Cultural Treasures of the World the following Santo Domingo destinations: the Palace of Diego Columbus, the island’s first governor; the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, the first to be built in the Americas; the Ozama Fortress; the Museum of the Royal Courts; the National Botanic Gardens, the “Malecon,” the city’s seaside avenue; and the Palace of Fine Arts.
The Palace of Diego Columbus and the Cathedral were the first buildings of its kind to be built in the Americas by the Spanish conquistadors in the sixteenth century.
The list was created by the International Bureau of Cultural Capitals and aims to “choose, promote and disseminate the cultural heritage of a territory in an educational and recreational manner, and to encourage visits to the sites selected and elected.”
At the same time, the list also seeks to establish new tourism routes that will allow visitors to experience the rich heritage of a particular territory, while at the same time promoting community participation.
The city of Santo Domingo became the center of many first events in the New World.
For instance, the continent’s first university, first Cathedral and first Viceroyalty were all built by the Spanish conquistadors upon their arrival in the 15th century. UNESCO declared the city’s colonial section as a “Patrimony of Humanity” years ago.
The Museum of the Palace of Diego Columbus, the seat of the first Viceroyalty of the Americas, reflects the life of Diego Columbus, the Admiral’s brother. The museum is located in the “Plaza de España,” in the city’s colonial section.
The museum collection contains over 800 historical pieces consisting of furniture, tapestries, ceramics, sculpture and paintings spanning seven centuries (from the 13th to the 20th century).
The Cathedral of Santo Domingo, the First in the Americas, is dedicated to St. Mary of the Incarnation. Construction on the Cathedral began in 1523 and was completed in 1541.
The Cathedral is located on the south side of Columbus Square, in the Colonial Section. Visiting hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Ozama Fortress was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, along with the Colonial Zone. Construction on the fortress extended from 1502 until 1508.
The Museum of the Royal Courts is a colonial building built in stone. This was the official seat of the Palace of the Royal Court, or Palace of the Captain General. The museum has a conference and reading room, a library and a gallery for exhibits.
The city’s Botanical Gardens feature permanent exhibitions of orchids, bromeliads, ferns and hosts cultural events related to the native flora.
The city’s seaside boulevard, the “Malecon” borders the majestic Caribbean Sea. Officially known as George Washington Avenue, the seaside boulevard is home to the city’s most impressive first-class hotels.
The avenue is also the place where the country’s National Carnival takes place, as well as popular musical events.
The Palace of Fine Arts was built during the Trujillo dictatorship in 1956. Situated in the downtown section of the city, its boasts a modern 614-seat auditorium, the National Dance School and exhibit halls.