Zona Colonial Tour, Santo Domingo

Zona Colonial Tour (Self Guided), Santo Domingo

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.
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Zona Colonial Tour Map

Guide Name: Zona Colonial Tour
Guide Location: Dominican Republic » Santo Domingo (See other walking tours in Santo Domingo)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: Maia
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Altar de la Patria
  • Puerta Del Conde
  • Hospital San Nicolás de Bari
  • Palacio Consistorial
  • Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor
  • Amber Museum and Gift Shop
  • Panteón Nacional
  • Museum of the Casas Reales
  • Alcázar de Colón
  • Museum of Juan Pablo Duarte
Altar de la Patria

1) Altar de la Patria (must see)

El Altar de la Patria, or The Altar of the Fatherland, is a white marble mausoleum in Santo Domingo that houses the remains of the founding fathers of the Dominican Republic: Juan Pablo Duarte, Francisco del Rosario Sánchez, and Ramón Matías Mella, collectively known as Los Trinitarios. Within the mausoleum there are statues of the founding fathers, carved by Italian sculptor Nicholas Arrighini; there is as well an "eternal flame" that is kept lit in memory of the patriots. The Altar is within the Baluatre del Conde and is the main attraction of El Parque Nacional.

In 1912, the Puerta del Conde was redesigned by architect Antonin Nechodoma to its present state; no longer was there a street passing through the park. This redesign later facilitated the construction of the Altar de la Patria in 1976. The Altar was located at the center of El Parque Independencia by architect Cristian Martínez Villanueva.

Prior to being placed in the Altar de la Patria, the remains of the founding fathers were kept at Capilla de los Inmortales de la Catedral de Santo Domingo. From March 27, 1943, they were kept at La Puerta del Conde for 33 years, before they found their final resting place in the then newly built Altar de la Patria.

Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday: 8:30 am – 6 pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Puerta Del Conde

2) 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.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Hospital San Nicolás de Bari

3) 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.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Palacio Consistorial

4) Palacio Consistorial

The palace was constructed in the 1500s and once served as town hall. Reconstructed over the centuries, Palacio Consistorial now stands as a fabulous example of colonial Baroque architecture. The building is especially notable due to its tall and white clock tower.
Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor

5) 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.
Amber Museum and Gift Shop

6) Amber Museum and Gift Shop

Famous for it's fantastic collection of amber, Museum of Amber is also known for its phenomenal shopping. Amber is obviously abundant in the gift-shop, making it the perfect souvenir for a special friend. Enjoy the exhibits and hit the gift-shop on the way out.

Operation hours: Monday - Friday: 9:30 am – 7 pm; Saturday: 9:30 am – 6:30 pm.
Panteón Nacional

7) 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.
Museum of the Casas Reales

8) Museum of the Casas Reales (must see)

The Museo de las Casas Reales was built during the colonial era in Hispanola, now the Dominican Republic. The building dates back to the sixteenth century, and was built to house the administrative offices of the Spanish colonies in the Americas. The palace was built by orders of the Spanish Crown, on October 5 of 1511 to house the main government offices of the colony in two interconnected buildings. In the first (South) section was the Royal Audiencia, the first court of the New World, as well as the office of the Comptroller General. The second (North) section was used by the successive Viceroys, Governors and Captains-General.

In 1807, during the period of French sovereignty over the Eastern part of Hispaniola, French general Louis Ferrand gave the facade a classical architectural style. During the last year of government of President Carlos Felipe Morales, some changes were made to use the building as the Governmental Palace. The Presidency later moved to a mansion on the site of today's Palacio Nacional. During the government of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo other modifications were made in order to house government offices.

The building was later restored to its original 16th-century appearance and was established on October 18, 1973, during the administration of President Joaquín Balaguer, as a museum to highlight the history, life and customs of the inhabitants of the Spanish colony. However, it was not officially opened until May 31, 1976. Attending the opening ceremony was King Juan Carlos I of Spain. It is currently one of the most visited sights in Santo Domingo.

Operation hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm; Sunday: 9 am – 4 pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Alcázar de Colón

9) 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.
Museum of Juan Pablo Duarte

10) Museum of Juan Pablo Duarte

Juan Pablo Duarte was an important person in Dominican Republic history. Duarte loved his country very much and consequently tried to constantly improve the fantastic region. Duarte never failed to struggle against Haitian domination, thus the museum was created to honor his legacy despite the opposite that he constantly faced.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Friday: 9 am - 5 pm; Saturday: 9 am - 12 pm

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 - 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 or 2 Miles
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 or 0.6 Miles
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: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Santo Domingo's Colonial Churches

Santo Domingo's 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 or 1.9 Miles
Santo Domingo Introduction Walking Tour

Santo Domingo Introduction Walking Tour

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...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 Km or 2.7 Miles
Santo Domingo - Northwest Tour

Santo Domingo - Northwest Tour

Northwest Santo Domingo is loaded with fantastic entertainment options. From the beautiful Botanic Garden with Jardín Japonés, to the well known baseball stadium, this region of the city is sure to leave you a very lasting impression.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.0 Km or 4.3 Miles