Santo Domingo is the oldest city in the New World, and was founded by Christopher Columbus and his younger brother, Bartholomew Columbus, in 1496. Part of the city that was inhabited in the early fifteenth century CE is called the colonial region (Zona Colonial in Spanish). The colonial region boasts many of the first in the new world. The first paved street, university, cathedral, castle, monastery, hospital, and fort – just to name a few. With beautiful architecture and rich history, Colonial Zone is a must see while visiting Santo Domingo. The colonial area is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
In the colonial area, besides the beauty of historical buildings, you will find: hotels, restaurants, cafes, museums, bars, shops, etc. The two most famous streets in the colonial area are Las Las Damas (Women's Street) and Calle Conde. Cali Las Damas was the street where high society women after the church went on their way to lunch. Cali Las Damas is an amazing street during the day, but it gets even more exciting at night because street lights turn the walls of the buildings into a beautiful orange tint. With each step you take on the first paved street in the new world, you travel back deeper at the right time until you feel as if you were in the 15th century AD next to Christopher Columbus himself.
There are many hotels to choose from and offer a wide range of prices from economy to chic. What is nice about budget hotels in this area is that they are clean and fitted with friendly people – with many native English speakers. Keep in mind that these buildings are old, and although they are clean, most of the rooms are small and face "old building" problems. However, for the price, I think they offer a great experience in a great area. There are many of these hotels and many offer different special offers at different times, so it is difficult to recommend one specific hotel. The reason I like hotels in this area is that when you exit the door of your hotel, you don't need to pay a taxi to take you to a place to enjoy it. You are already in the # 1 destination spot in Santo Domingo.
On the upside, there are many hotels to enjoy it, but I will talk about Hodelpa Nicolas De Ovando. This hotel has spacious guest rooms, a nice courtyard outside to enjoy evenings, a mini bar, good food for breakfast buffet and for dinner a great menu, but the best aspects of this hotel are its history and architecture. Nicholas de Ovando, travel companion Christopher Columbus, was the third ruler of the Indies, and this hotel was his home and dates back to the year 1502. This hotel is located on Calle Las Damas (first paved street) in one of the first houses built, so for me, no There is a better place to stay so you can immerse yourself in the culture of the oldest city in the New World. But don't worry if the hotel is off your budget, you can visit it and enjoy a cocktail at the bar or on the patio.
Things to do and see
I highly suggest taking a walking tour of Calle Las Damas and making it the first thing to do when you arrive at the colonial area. Once you understand the buildings and their history, you will be able to enjoy them more. For example, if you sit in the Spanish square (Spain square) enjoying a nice dinner, as you look across the square and see the stone building, it will not just be a stone building anymore because after taking a walking tour, we will understand this is the house of Christopher Columbus's son, Diego Columbus.
When walking at Calle Las Damas, you will be contacted by a tour guide who will provide you with a walking tour. Until now it was every tour I took with excellent English guides. The walking tour usually takes two hours. I usually talk to the tour guide before and ask them to highlight the attempts and try to get the tour done within an hour to an hour and a half. The cost of the tour is usually around $ 1,000 Dominican Peso ($ 20), but you can try negotiating a lower price. The tour guides do a great job and they are interested, so I think they earn 1000 pesos.
The next section will talk about some of the buildings worth seeing and many of them will be included in the tour.
Buildings, museums and historical monuments
Santa Maria Cathedral / Santa Maria CathedralBuilt in 1514, it is the first cathedral of the Americas. This cathedral is an active and functioning cathedral and has 7 beautiful chapels.
Alcázar de Colon It is the home of the son of Christopher Columbus (Diego Columbus). This house has been converted into a beautiful museum with some original furnishings and some copies of original furniture. Walking through this museum gives you a sense of how Columbus lived in the 15th century.
Spain Square It is a large open gathering area that on one side has 8 restaurants overlooking the square and on the other side is the Alcazar de Colon (home of Diego Columbus, son of Christopher Columbus). The square is found at the end of Calle Las Damas Street.
Cali Las Damas Perhaps it is the most historically important street in the city. It was the first paved street for the Americas and it was also the street on which women of high society walked after the church to attend lunch. The streets are filled with 15th-century buildings that have now turned into museums, hotels, restaurants, etc. Draw the date as you walk down this street.
Kali Conde Probably the second most important street in the city. This street is closed to cars and full of shops, cafes, restaurants and hotels, and has a small park (Parque Colon) in the middle, on the other side of this street, is Parque Independencia (Independence Park).
Fortaleza Ozama It is a 16th-century castle that was built overlooking the Ozama River in the colonial area. This is the oldest designed castle in Europe in the Americas.
Ruinas de San Francisco It is the remains of a monastery built in preparation for the Franciscan Fathers in 1508. This ruin is important and was the work of Governor Nicholas de Ovando.
PAnton de la Patria Originally a Church of the Jesuits, it later became a mausoleum to house the remains of some of the prominent patriotic, civil and military heroes of the Dominican Republic.
El Park Colon (Columbus Park) It was the main gathering center for celebrations in the colonial era and remains to this day. Located on Calle Conde Street across from Conde Hotel and near Santa Maria Cathedral, it is a great place to sit on a park bench under a tree and relax from visiting museums and monuments to enjoy the beauty and culture.
Restaurants, bars, cafes and night clubs
There are many restaurants, bars, cafes and nightclubs in the colonial area. I will focus on those of historical significance, those that I enjoyed and others that our former clients enjoyed.
Overlooking Plaza Espana (Spanish Spanish) and Alcázar de Colón (home of Deigo Columbus), there are 8 restaurants located respectively. Each of them has a menu located in front of the restaurant in Spanish and English. All eight restaurants are elegant, and the longest restaurant in the new world is one of these eight restaurants. Pate Palo (The Wood Station) was once owned by a one-leged pirate which is a 500-year-old restaurant that Sir Francis Drake once ate. Whether you're eating Pate Palo or one of the other eight people, you can't go wrong with picking one of these.
Calle Conde has many restaurants to choose from. It's casual clothes for lunch, casual or informal at night. Segrefrados, an Italian restaurant is an excellent location not only for food but for people watching. They have great coffee in the morning to start their day, and the pizza is excellent. For more traditional Dominican cuisine, visit the first floor of the Conde Hotel. This restaurant has a patio overlooking Parque Calon and Santa Maria Cathedral.
At the end of Calle Conde Street, there is a very famous cafe / restaurant called Grands, formerly Pacos. This restaurant is open 24 hours and is a great place to have coffee and some breakfast to start your day. This is not a great place, but an ordinary coffee shop on any day of the week, you'll see people gather here to enjoy a good conversation with coffee, Dominican food, no matter what time it is.
LuLus Tasting Bar is a great place to enjoy a cocktail and dinner. It is a very trendy informal site.
Onnos is a nightclub located in the heart of the Colonial Zone where you can hear the country's favorite music (Bachata, Merengue, and Salsa).
As I mentioned before, there are many restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs to choose from, but I wanted to give you a list of what we consider popular options. As you walk around you will see many others, if you see someone you like, all you have to do is go in and have fun.
Between history, museums, great restaurants, cafes, and nightlife, the colonial area should be the point of view for anyone visiting the Dominican Republic. This is a friendly area for English speakers and it is very safe to roam around as a tourist.