Santo Domingo is the sprawling capital city of the Dominican Republic, which forms a large portion of the Caribbean Islands.The Dominican Republic was discovered by Columbus’s brother Bartholomew Columbus and is regarded as the birthplace of European Colonialism in the Western hemisphere. The country shares its borders with Haiti on the western side. Santo Domingo is believed to have been a pioneer of so many things including, the very first cathedral, university, hospital, monastery, sewer system, castles, and fortresses.

The physical geography of the Dominican Republic has so much to offer to its visitors thanks to its rich landscapes. In 1990, the City was regarded as the historic district of the city and earned the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Listed below are 15 Places to visit in Santo Domingo for the travelling architect

1. Zona Colonial or Ciudad Colonial

This very part of the City is what earned the Santo Domingo the title of UNESCO World Heritage. The town takes on a gridiron plan, with its many colossal Spanish colonial buildings, that speak of its rich history.The town is touched by the Ozama River on two sides, and its first settlement is believed to have been instituted by Bartholomew Columbus.Some of the sundry attractions in Zona Colonial one should visit are Santa Maria la Menor Cathedral, Alcazar de Colon, FortazelaOzama, Museo de la ResistanciaDominicana, etc.

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Map showing the Gridiron plan of Zona Colonial ©en.wikipedia.org
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A View of one of the streets in Santo Domingo©domi.tours

2. Alcázar De Colón 

Also called the Colonial Palace of Christopher Columbus, this boasts the title of being the most visited historical tourist attraction in the city and forms a part of the Ciudad Colonial’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building is said to have been built in the way back in 1510 when the erstwhile king of the Dominican Republic granted to Diego Columbus, Christopher Columbus’ first-born son.Following the Spanish Colonial Style of Architecture, the building has now been converted into a museum where visitors can admire European Late Medieval and Renaissance art.

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Exterior view of Alcázar de Colón ©images.visitarepublicadominicana.org
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Interior View of the Museum and its exhibits©images.visitarepublicadominicana.org

3. Plaza De Espana

Plaza De Espana or Plaza of Spain is a huge tiled, open, civic attraction in the center of the Colonial City. It sits on the bank of the Ozama river and is a beautiful host to several historic sites including the Alcázar de Colón.This square sees a swarm of tourists and visitors alike due to its dream © like and cozy restaurants with beautiful views during the evenings. This plaza was the sight of Community being for the first Spanish families, as this was also where the first colonial houses were built.  The square also sports a statue of one of the colonial governors, Nicolás de Ovando. This square sees a swarm of tourists and visitors alike due to its dream-like and cozy restaurants with beautiful views during the evenings. This plaza was the sight of Community being for the first Spanish families, as this was also where the first colonial houses were built.  The square also sports a statue of one of the colonial governors, Nicolás de Ovando.

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A beautiful view of the restaurants in Plaza De Espana illuminated at dusk©live.staticflickr.com
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A warm sunset in the background of Plaza de Espana©pbs.twimg.com

 4. Museum of The Dominican Man

Located in Juan Pablo Duarte Culture Square, this museum is the right place to head to witness the largest collection of objects and relics of the Caribbean. The museum is a reflection of the Pre-Columbian Taino Culture through artifacts as well as the State’s and the archaeological records of the Dominican Republic. The curation plays a witness to the amalgamation of the Cultures of the European and the indigenous people, indebting itself to the history and lifestyle of the Indigenous people.

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An exterior view of the Museo del Hombre Dominicano or The Museum of the Dominican Man©i.pinimg.com
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The display of some of the Oldest Masks, curated in the Dominican Carnival Exhibition Space©media-cdn.tripadvisor.com

5. Catedralprimada De América or The Cathedral Of Santo Domingo

Basilica Cathedral Santa Maria de la Encarnacion or more commonly called the Cathedral of Santo Domingo contributes a huge fraction to the beauty of the City. It is famously known as the first Cathedral of the New World built in 1540. The Cathedral conforms to predominantly the Gothic and the Plateresque style with facades adorned with renaissance motifs. One can view much beautiful artwork including paintings, sculptures, and altar pieces.

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View of the Nave of the Cathedral ©godominicanrepublic.com
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An exterior view of the entry to the Cathedral ©media-cdn.tripadvisor.com

6. Fortaleza Ozama

Fortaleza Ozama or The Ozama Fort is a 16th-century fort that is another noble example of Spanish Colonial Military Architecture. It sits on a hill located facing the Ozama river, hence the name. The fort also provides a great full-round view of the surroundings upon climbing the stairs that lead to the terrace. What stands today is a re-modification of the fortress over several centuries. There are several parts to the fortress including Puerta Carlos III Gate, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo Statue, Tower of Homage, the Tower where Fernándezde Oviedo wrote the famous General and Natural History of the Indies, El polvorín, the shooting platforms, and the Garita de Santiago shelter.

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A view of the Fort and the surroundings ©live.staticflickr.com
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View of the fort, while inside it ©static.traveltek.net

7. Casa De Tostado or The Tostado House Museum.

The Tostado House Museum is lauded to be one of the plushest and erstwhile houses in the City. It was built in the 14th century as a residence of Francisco Tostado, the former notary of the governor, back in the day. This building is famous for its double Gothican-Elizabethan window, being the only kind in the New World. The building also houses the Museo de La Familia Dominicana (or the Museum of the Dominican Man) in the restored building. The building stands next to CatedralPrimada De América (or The Cathedral Of Santo Domingo).

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Casa De Tostado with the view of the double Gothian-Elizabethan window ©media-cdn.tripadvisor.com
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Interior of the Museum, with an outlook on the late Elizabethan lifestyle ©godominicanrepublic.com

8. Faro A Colon or The Columbus Lighthouse

Faro A Colon is the final resting place of Christopher Columbus. This musoleum-turned-museum obeys a crucifix plan and commemorates the 500 years of the arrival of Columbus into the Island. The current design emerged as the winning entry in the competition commissioned by the Government. The winning entry was the proposal of Scottish architect Joseph L. Gleave. Inside the Lighthouse, one can find exhibits of various indigenous artifacts from all around the New World. The architect aimed at creating a building that amalgamates both the Cross and a Mayan Pyramid.

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Frontal View of the Columbus Lighthouse ©2.bp.blogspot.com
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An exterior view of the Columbus Lighthouse ©godominicanrepublic.com

9. Chinatown, Santo Domingo

The social center for the Chinese Community in Santo Domingo is a beautiful array of businesses, parks, and fountains that embody the culture of the Chinese Neighborhood. Launched in 2008, fuses other Asian Cultures as well including the Vietnamese, the Japanese, and the Korean. The Entry into Chinatown happens with the Framed Archway that incorporates Oriental Design. One can explore the area on foot and learn about the many different characters of Chinese ethnicity. Some of the many places to stop at are the Chinese Language School, the Chinese Culture Museum, and the Chinese Clinic, which is dedicated to oriental treatment.

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View of the Streets illuminated at night ©i.pinimg.com
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A night view showing the Oriental Archway that welcomes visitors into the Chinatown ©exploristory.com

 10. Museo De Las Casas Reales Or Museum Of The Royal Houses

Built-in the 1500s, the Museum of the Royal houses was a building dedicated to function as the Governor’s Royal Court. Built-in the Architecture of the Spanish colonial style, the building now functions as a museum that narrates the history of the Dominican Republic. Housed in the museum are also several artifacts that depict Columbus’ voyages from the ages of slavery to the Country Independence. The building is composed of two connected buildings; the first one hosted the Royal Court and government offices, while the second one served as residential quarters to the high government representatives.

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An exterior view of Museo De Las Casas with an installation ©images.visitarepublicadominicana.org
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Interior view of the Museum ©afar-production.imgix.net

11. Dominican Resistance Memorial Museum

Museo Memorial de la Resistencia Dominicana as it is locally called is a memorial devoted to depicting the days of struggle under the dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. The museum aims at voicing the facts, witnesses, and people that underwent democratic struggles. It is located in the heart of the Colonial City with the exhibition tying together a variety of museum resources that constitute a traditional display of objects to the dramatization of an animatronic.

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A look inside the Museum and its displays ©images2.listindiario.com
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A view of the Internal Spanish Courtyard of the Museum ©assets.atlasobscura.com

12. Museo De Las AtarazanasReales (Mar)

The Museum of Royal Atarazanas (MAR), a former warehouse and customs office is sited between La fifteenth and the nineteenth centuries. It is a wonderful curation of underwater archaeological displays collected from throughout the Dominican Coasts. There is also a display of the Ship Concepción that sank during the hurricane in the sixteenth century.

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An exterior view of the Museum ©godominicanrepublic.com
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Interiors of the museum showcasing the display items and the various curiosities ©i0.wp.com/presidencia.gob.do

13. Panteón De La Patria or The National Pantheon

Originally conceived as a Jesuit Church, this neoclassical building finished completion in the late eighteenth century. The building currently stands as the National Mausoleum of the country. The remains of Dominican heroes such as Gregorio Luperón, Salomé Ureña, José Núñez de Cáceres, Concepción Bona, Emilio Prud’Homme, Juan Sánchez Ramírez and María Trinidad Sánchez amid others are located here. The façade sports the Dominican National shield and a set of three bells are also adorned on it. The Chandelier inside the mausoleum is believed to have been a gift from the Spanish Dictator Franco.

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Interior view of the Mausoleum ©live.staticflickr.com
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View of the façade with the National Shield and the triad of bells ©cdn.civitatis.com

14. Ruinas Hospital San Nicolás De Bari

The very first hospital in the Dominican Republic was San Nicolas De Bari. It built in the early sixteenth century, and from its inception it served as both a church and a health center. It is famously known for surviving many earthquakes and even invasions from foreign rulers. Before being completely abandoned in the 18th century, the Church used to be divided into three naves, where the central one served as the chapel and the other two for treating the unwell.

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View of the Hospital ruins ©upload.wikimedia.org
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An old signage displayed among the ruins ©lh3.googleusercontent.com

15. Arcoiris Sur

The project sits in Republica de Colombia Ave with proximity to Santo Domingo, which is the sole place in the Dominican Republic that contributes to the country’s major agrarian and livestock production. The urban sprawl resulting due to industrial production and real estate developments caused an increase in the population of the current context which in turn triggered a huge shortage in living spaces. Thus the project called for a mixed-use typology, with an area of approx. 9000 sq.m. in each plot while following the topography of the place.

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An exterior view of the Dwelling units facing the main access road ©lh3.googleusercontent.com
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Architect’s rendition of one the Dwelling Units ©t1.daumcdn.net

The Architect, Roberto Rijo, proposed an organizational principle that would allow for disparities in configuration, tones, and form along the main axis. The dwelling units grant three kinds of typologies namely, detached single-family units, paired single-family units, and attached single-family units. These units are acquired into two storeys. The living space constitutes the upper storey while the social and service aspects, the lower storey.

Architectural Journalist

Rethinking The Future

Is a Young Student on the verge of completing her Bachelor in Architecture. Being an ardent admirer of Van Gogh, she tries her best to get her ideas about Architecture into life through the art of writing. She believes that words as much as drawings carry great value in the profession of Architecture.

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