Santo Domingo Colonial Zone Walking Tour
Santo Domingo is said to have more than 300 historic monuments, churches, streets and residences. You’d need far more than a couple of days to simply speedwalk pass most of them. But what fun would that be? Needless to say, you’d learn very little about their importance in the history of the country or the New World.
This itinerary includes some of the most important historic sites and gives you an easy, leisurely route to see them.
Parque Colón is a good place to begin. However, if you arrive via cruiseship at the Don Diego Terminal, the best place to begin may be at Museo de Las Casas Reales. With this self-guided walking tour, you can begin at any point then follow the routing. So let’s begin in Parque Colón.
In the center of Parque Colón is an 1887 bronze statue of Christopher Columbus pointing north while a Taino maiden reaches up to him. Dominating the plaza is Cathedral of Santa María of the Incarnation, the first Cathedral in America.
From Columbus’ Statue, you can enter the Gate of Pardons on the north side of the Cathedral. The old church is rich in history so you should plan to spend at least a few minutes walking through the sanctuary and visiting some of the 14 small chapels. Exit the sanctuary through the St. Peter’s Gate on the west side of the building. Stop for a moment to examine the two and a half ton, 500 year old doors as you leave the Cathedral. Look to the right just before going through the double metal gate and you’ll see a statue of Pope John Paul II who visited the city on the 500th anniversary of the Great Admiral’s arrival on the island.
Walk through the gate then turn north. Across the street on the southwest corner of Calle El Conde and Arzboispo Merino you’ll see a tall white clocktower. The clocktower is the most prominent feature of Palacio Consistorial, which sits on the site of the first city hall in the New World. The clocktower is used by many tourists as a beacon to find their way back to Parque Colón.
At the corner, turn left onto Calle El Conde and begin your leisurely exploration of the oldest commercial street in Santo Domingo. The pedestrian-only promenade runs through the heart of the Colonial Zone and is full of shops, bars, and restaurants.
At the end of Calle El Conde is Puerta del Conde, the gate where freedom fighters raised the Dominican flag to declare their country’s freedom from Haiti’s 22-year occupation.
Walk through Puerta del Conde into Parque Independencia. The main feature in the quiet park is the Altar de la Patria. Juan Pablo Duarte, Francisco del Rosario Sánchez and Ramon Matias Mella, the three Dominican Republic’s Founding Fathers, are interred in the Altar. Tall statues of the three national heroes stand at the center of the structure.
Retrace your steps to Calle El Conde. If you’re getting a little thirsty, stop at the Jumbo supermarket at Calle Duarte to pick up bottled water and a few snacks. You can pay for your purchase with US Dollars but you’ll get Dominican Pesos for change. So use small bills.
If your sweet tooth is kicking in, stop at Bon Heladerías next door to the supermarket for some of the Dominican Republic’s best ice cream.
Continue to Part 2