Museo de las Casas Reales. W.
Plaza del Alcázar de Colón / Alcazar de Colon Square.

Born-Again Santo Domingo

Among the usual announcements of new beach hotel openings, new investments in golf clubs or marinas, and the progress of destinations such as Punta Cana, La Romana, Puerto Plata or Samana, Dominican Republic’s authorities have made public their intention of turning the capital of the country, and especially its historical center, into one of the nation’s greatest attractions for international tourism in a five-year term.

In just a few years, the first city founded in The Americas, where the first cathedral of the New World is preserved, and so is the first hospital and the first university, will stop being a second-rate destination in the Dominican Republic’s tourist offer, and will start generating more visitors as it opens up with better conditions to interested segments. Expectations rely on an extensive overhaul project targeting Santo Domingo’s colonial area. The plan includes not only the renovation of monuments and streets, but also strengthening security in the area, building commercial facilities and creating car and bus parking lots, and even social and employment programs, among others. The initiative backed up by a credit line amounting to approximately US$30 million will enable the Dominican Republic to move towards its goal of opening new market niches as complement to its sun and beach segments, to boost a tourism based on its historical and cultural patrimony that could generate direct arrivals or entice a larger number of tourists into visiting the city in addition to those currently brought in through optional offers or excursions, from Punta Cana, La Romana or Puerto Plata. The Dominican capital has a nice port at the mouth of the Ozama River and facing the majestic Faro de Colon that is actually one of the main cruise ship terminals in the Caribbean. There are also the international airports of Las Americas and Herrera. The historical center, a World Heritage Site, is a wonderful assembly of five hundred-year-old monuments and buildings that nobody would like to pass up. The typical itinerary starts at the Calle Las Damas Street, where you can find the colossal mansion of Rodrigo de Bastidas and the Holy Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of our Lady Holy Mary of the Incarnation, the first cathedral built in The Americas. A stop at the Alcazar de Colon building, a praiseworthy colonial construction from the early 16th century located close to the Ozama Fort that served as venue for the Viceroy Court, is a must. Following on the same route, there is the wooded Plaza de la Hispanidad square; and further away, in the former grounds of the General Headquarters and the Royal Court, the fabulous museum of Royal Shipyards, whose excellent collection goes from the 16th to the 19th century, offering a detailed tour of the colonial history of the country. Back in the departure point, the best option would be to venture into old Santo Domingo and take a closer look to its environments across the Paseo del Conde avenue that leads to the Independence Park. Behind will be dozens of historical buildings full of legends within the motley scenery that characterizes medieval urbanism; and jewels scattered around such as churches and military buildings like La Torre del Homenaje, considered one of the eldest standing military constructions of the New World. The initiative seeks to make it easier for the Dominican people, not only those living in the area, but throughout the country, to participate in the tourist development of the nation by opening possibilities for education and training of human resources, and facilitating the access of local micro and small businesses, in an effort to provide higher-quality services and a wider variety of products and build an efficient structure for the tourism productive chain, making emphasis in the poorest sectors. It will make it possible for us to enjoy a colonial jewel, fully renewed, that will be like an open book on culture and history.