City Orientation Walk, Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo or "La Capital", as the Dominicans commonly refer to it, is one of the oldest cities in the Caribbean. The historic district of Zona Colonial, surrounded by walls, preserves legacy of the early settlers manifested in cobblestoned streets and centuries-old buildings dating back as far as the 1500s, including the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor, the first cathedral ever built in the New World. The nearby Alcázar de Colón palace, in Plaza de España, one of the city’s numerous museums, is dedicated to art. To explore these and other attractions of Santo Domingo, follow this orientation walk.
You can follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the attractions listed below. How it works: download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: Dominican Republic » Santo Domingo (See other walking tours in Santo Domingo)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 17
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Author: alex1007
1
Parque Colon

1) Parque Colon (must see)

Parque Colon is the central square of the Ciudad Colonial historic district of Santo Domingo. In its Center stands a late-19th Christopher Columbus, in whose honor the square was renamed in 1887. Previously the square was known as Plaza Mayor.
Monuments bordering the square include the Catedral de Santa Maria la Menor, Santo Domingo's Municipal Palace, and the Palacio Borgella, which once hosted the Dominican Republic's Parliament. Calle del Conde, once the thriving commercial heart of Santo Domingo, starts from Parque Colon and runs to the Puerta del Conde. At the beginning of Calle del Conde is a late-20th-century bust of Bartholomew Columbus, Christopher's brother and the founder of Santo Domingo.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor

2) Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor (must see)

The Cathedral of Santa María la Menor in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo is dedicated to St. Mary of the Incarnation. It is the oldest cathedral in the Americas. The Cathedral is fronted with a golden-tinted coral limestone façade, the church combines elements of both Gothic and Baroque with some lavish plateresque styles as exemplified by the high altar chiseled out of silver. There is also a treasury which has an excellent art collection of ancient woodcarvings, furnishings, funerary monuments, silver, and jewelry. The Cathedral was consecrated by Pope Julius II in 1504 and its construction began in 1512 under the leadership of Bishop Fray García Padilla. The construction was carried out by Luis Moya.

There are twelve side chapels, three aisles and a nave. The roof of the nave is pitched, while the aisles have cross vaulted ceilings.The Cathedral also has a treasury containing retablos, paintings, old woodwork, furniture, sculptures and tombstones.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Fortaleza Ozama

3) Fortaleza Ozama (must see)

The Fortaleza Ozama (in Spanish; Ozama Fortress in English) is a sixteenth-century castle which lies at the entrance to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and overlooking the Ozama River. Named after this river, the castle, also referred to as "La Fortaleza" or "The Fortress", is the oldest formal military construction still standing in America. An impressive architectural structure of medieval style and design, the Tower of Homage (in Spanish: Torre del Homenaje) stands in the center of the grounds. The castle was designed to guard the entrance to the port of Santo Domingo, and defend the city from seaborne enemies. Construction began in 1502. It was well-built enough to serve as a prison until the 1960s, when the prison was closed, the "Fortaleza" was restored and it opened to the public as a tourist attraction. It is located at the end of Las Damas Street.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Museo Infantil Trampolín

4) Museo Infantil Trampolín (must see)

If you have little children than you should definitely visit The Children’s Museum, or in Spanish "Museo Infantil Trampolín". Several rooms are of interest inside the museum, including one with a big screen movie centered around the solar system. Also, kids can see what it's like to be in the middle of an earthquake, courtesy of the earthquake simulator.

Opening hours: Tuesday - Friday: 9 am - 5 pm; Saturdays and Sundays - 10:00 am to 5:30 pm
5
Plaza María de Toledo

5) Plaza María de Toledo

The Plaza María de Toledo is located between Las Damas and Isabel la Católica streets , in the Colonial Zone , Santo Domingo . This space has no colonial origin, rather it was built in honor of Maria de Toledo, wife of Diego Colon , who was the first Viceroy of the island and America, consequently she became a viceroy and always had an important position and influence in The decisive issues of the new Spanish colony.
6
Panteón Nacional

6) Panteón Nacional (must see)

The National Pantheon was built from 1714-1746 by the Spaniard Geronimo Quezada y Garçon and was originally a Jesuit church. The structure was constructed in the neoclassic-renaissance style. Today the structure stands as a national symbol of the Dominican Republic and serves as the final resting place of the Republic's most honored citizens.

Jesuits held mass here from 1746-1767. After 1767 it was used as a tobacco warehouse and then as a theater. The theater was the venue for the pro-independence organization La Trinitaria, which staged shows under aliases such as La Filantrópica and La Dramática. From its stages, the ideas were set in motion for a free and sovereign republic by national heroes like Juan Pablo Duarte, Ramon Matias Mella, and Francisco del Rosario Sanchez, among others.

In 1956, Spanish architect Javier Borroso renovated the structure to serve its new purpose as a national mausoleum, by order of then dictator Rafael Trujillo. Originally, Trujillo envisioned being interred at the National Pantheon, yet ironically today it is the place were the country's most famous persons are honored, among others Trujillo's assassins. Other notables that are buried at the National Pantheon include: Francisco Gregorio Billini, Gregorio Luperón, and Eugenio Hostos.

Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday: 9 am – 4:30 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Puerta de San Diego

7) Puerta de San Diego

The Puerta de San Diego or Puerta de la Mar is an important part of the monuments of the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo . As its name indicates, this gate was the main entrance to the city from the port located on the Ozama River .
Built in the middle of the 16th century by the architect Rodrigo de Liendo, this door was emblazoned with the shield of the King, the Island of Hispaniola and the City of Santo Domingo, and is flanked by two columns endorsed to the wall.
8
Alcázar de Colón

8) Alcázar de Colón (must see)

The Alcázar de Colón, or Columbus Alcazar is the oldest Viceregal residence in America, and forms part of the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo World Heritage Site.

The building houses the Museo Alcázar de Diego Colón, whose collection exhibits the Caribbean's most important ensemble of European late medieval and Renaissance works of art, which were acquired in the 1950s. The Tapestry collection (spanning from the 15th to 17th centuries) is particularly important and unique in the Caribbean, and includes pieces produced by the Flemish Van Den Hecke family from cartouches created by Charles Le Brun. The Alcázar is the most visited museum in Santo Domingo.

The palace is an impressive construction of coralline blocks that once housed some fifty rooms and a number of gardens and courtyards, although what remains today is about half the size it once was. It was built under Diego Colón, the son of Christopher Columbus; when he became Viceroy of La Española and the Indies in 1509, he ordered the construction of a family home and governor’s mansion between 1510 and 1512.

During the early Spanish colonial period, the mansion occupied a very important place in history. It was from here that many expeditions of conquest and exploration were planned.
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
La Atarazana Street

9) La Atarazana Street

La Atarazana is a wonderful place for shopping. This street is full of art galleries, jewelry stores, and shops with vintage crafts. La Atarazana is an incredibly beautiful street, so not only will you enjoy the items for sale, but also cherish the surrounding views.
10
Monasterio de San Francisco

10) Monasterio de San Francisco (must see)

Monasterio de San Francisco in Santo Domingo de Guzman is a monastery that was built around 1508, with the arrival of the Franciscan fathers. The ruin is one of most important of the city. It is located in the Zona Colonial of Santo Domingo and has been declared a "heritage Dominican".

The Monastery of San Francisco was one of the works of Nicolas de Ovando. Construction began with the arrival of the Franciscan fathers around 1508. It was the first monastery in the New World. The monastery was later hit by a hurricane. Construction began on the main part of the church in 1544 and was completed on July 23, 1556. In 1586 it was sacked by Francis Drake. Repairs were completed in 1664, but according to historians, the building was damaged by earthquakes in 1673 and 1751.

According to historians, Alonso de Ojeda was buried at the main entrance to the monastery. His remains were moved to the former Convento Dominico on October 12, 1942. Also found were the remains of Bartholomew Columbus. During the Battle of Palo Hincado (1808) against the French, a piece of artillery was deployed on the roof. The vault was cut, and a timber platform was constructed. The building was used as a mental asylum from the 1880s until the 1930s. A hurricane at that time caused a lot of damage, which was never repaired. Currently, the ruins are used for social and cultural events and are cared for and protected by law and by the county of Efemérides.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
Hospital San Nicolás de Bari

11) Hospital San Nicolás de Bari (must see)

Today a preserved ruin, the oldest hospital built in America, the Hospital San Nicolás de Bari was constructed in different stages between 1503 and 1552. This grand project was in keeping with the desire to emulate European princely courts, and looked to Renaissance Italy for inspiration. It is likely that the model for the Hospital de San Nicolás was the large Hospital of Sancto Spiritu in Rome.

The complex occupied most of the block and was built on two stories in a cross shaped plan. Each of the corners contained a courtyard that provided light, ventilation, and open space to the various hospital facilities. The structure, in keeping with contemporary European hospitals, was composed of three naves: a central one for worship flanked by two lateral naves which housed the sick. In this way, patients were literally steps away from the sanctuary and the chapel located in its core. There was also a separate private chapel, now incorporated into the adjacent 20th Century Church of La Altagracia.

Already a ruin in 1908 when part of its façade collapsed, the hospital exhibited a combination of Gothic and Renaissance elements, with some considerable Mudéjar influence, as was typical of 16th Century Santo Domingo buildings. For example the interior arches—which supported Gothic rib vaults—were pointed on the second story yet barreled on the ground floor. The vanguardist plan of the San Nicolás de Bari hospital served as a model for other hospitals throughout Spanish America, namely the Hospital de la Concepción undertaken in Mexico by Hernando Cortés in 1524.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
12
Iglesia de las Mercedes

12) Iglesia de las Mercedes (must see)

Iglesia de las Mercedes was founded in 1549 and completed in 1555. Today, the church is one of the most well-known and most visited worship places in the city. Locals visit the church to worship the Virgen de Las Mercedes. The building is designed in Gothic style, and features a famous altar.
13
Calle el Conde

13) Calle el Conde

El Conde is the most popular shopping street and it is one of the oldest streets in Santo Domingo. There are a lot of textile shops, restaurants and cafes gift and jewelry shops to choose from. It is located in the historic Zona Colonial of Santo Domingo.
14
Puerta Del Conde

14) Puerta Del Conde (must see)

La Puerta del Conde (The Count's Gate) is the site in Santo Domingo, where Francisco del Rosario Sanchez, one of the Dominican Founding Fathers, proclaimed Dominican independence and raised the first Dominican Flag, on February 27, 1844. The gate is part of a structure called El Baluarte del Conde, a fort in Ciudad Colonial, the colonial area of Santo Domingo. The fort was part of a larger system of fortifications that ran along a defensive wall which surrounded Ciudad Colonial. The Altar of the Fatherland and Independence Park are located there. The construction of this site began in 1543 and the site was originally named Fort San Genaro.El Baluarte del Conde was a typical model of the school of 17th century bastion fortresses of Italian influence, which are preserved in the Caribbean as a major legacy of 17th century fortifications. The city's defensive wall reached its full footprint by about the 18th century with the addition of various defensive structures, effectively enclosing Colonial Santo Domingo in a pentagonal wall.

Today, La Puerta del Conde serves as the main entrance to El Parque Nacional, also referred to as Independence Park. El Baluarte del Conde is a symbol of independence and contains several monuments and structures which attest to the Dominican struggle for freedom.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
15
Fuerte de San Gil

15) Fuerte de San Gil (must see)

Fuerte de San Gil was created between the years 1503 and 1510. The special landmark is composed of its left half (toward the sea) constructed in polygonal form with five sides and two hoods. The three-sided Fort San Gil once served as protection from both sides of the beach as well as the sea. It is a wonderful place to spend some time at night.
16
Mirabal Sistrers Obelisco

16) Mirabal Sistrers Obelisco

Mirabal Sistrers Obelisco Tower is very famous and also, very high (137 feet). The tower was created to honor the Mirabal sisters, victims who fought for their beliefs and convictions. The sisters were killed by dictator Trujillo. Thus, Mirabal Sistrers Obelisco is not only a very beautiful tower, but also one with deep significance.
17
Plaza Juan Baron

17) Plaza Juan Baron

Plaza Juan Baron is one of the most important areas of Malecone. The large plaza (approx. 3902.46 sq. meters) offers a large variety of interesting destinations. The roads inside the plaza are designed for people who like to walk and ride bicycles as they wander through the plethora of restaurants and shops.

Walking Tours in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Create Your Own Walk in Santo Domingo

Create Your Own Walk in Santo Domingo

Creating your own self-guided walk in Santo Domingo is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Santo Domingo Cultural Tour

Santo Domingo Cultural Tour

Santo Domingo is very beautiful and popular among tourists. The city offers a large variety of distinct cultural spots, thus making Santo Domingo all the more attractive. Museums, theaters, and other beautiful buildings line the city streets, clearly demonstrating culture through its traditions and its art.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 km
Santo Domingo - El Malecone

Santo Domingo - El Malecone

El Malecone stretches for 15 km along the shore. It is a very beautiful street to walk, where one can admire the beauty of the Dominican Republic while cherishing first-class ice cream. El Malecone is not only a popular attraction for tourists, but also a hot spot for locals as well. Make sure you check it out during your time in Santo Domingo.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 km
Santo Domingo Shopping

Santo Domingo Shopping

Santo Domingo is famous not only for its great atmosphere, service, and beautiful locations, but also for its shopping spots. The most famous street for shopping in the city is El Conde, situated in the Colonial Zone. Here, you will find a lot of interesting goods for sell.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 km
Las Damas Street

Las Damas Street

Las Damas is the most ancient street in the city and thus very popular due to its rich culture. The street received its name after the wives of important individuals in Dominican Republic who liked to take walks down the street in their spare time. Today you can follow their path and enjoy the same trees, colonial houses, and other buildings of interest.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 km
Zona Colonial Tour

Zona Colonial Tour

Zona Colonial, or "Colonial Zone", is a tiny metropolis situated in the city of Santo Domingo. Zone Colonial is the most ancient settlement in "The Americas". Journey down the beautiful streets of this ancient establishment and you are sure to find a plethora of historical buildings, shops, museums, and churches.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km
Santo Domingo Colonial Churches

Santo Domingo Colonial Churches

Santo Domingo is a city with several different places of worship. The city is home to a number of beautiful churches rich in history and religious heritage. Also, the churches are all ideally situated close to one another, thereby making it possible to view them all in one trip.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 km

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Santo Domingo for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Santo Domingo has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Santo Domingo, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.