Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, remains the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the New World. At the heart of the city is the Zona Colonial, where you can find one of the oldest churches and the oldest surviving European fortress, among other New World firsts. It’s also a place where we were losing ourselves amid the cobblestone streets for most of the day. With its Spanish colonial history and its beautiful landscape, the city has a hybrid of past and present things to explore and discover. Another huge advantage is, that you can basically park your car in Zona Colonial anywhere you want to, without paying a parking fee. However, we were there on Sunday so the city was emptied out, the situation might be different during the weekday.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor
Also know as the the oldest church in the Americas, for which it is honoured as the birthplace of Christianity in the New World. Many believe the remains of Christopher Colombus rest inside the church, though that information hasn’t been fully disclosed yet, because a lot of those who tend to disagree.
Plaza De Espana
Plaza De Espana a large paved area meant for walking, sitting or having a meal when exploring the city of Santo Domingo. There are nice restaurants located adjacent to the plaza along with the House of Columbus (that is Diego Columbus/Colon, the explorer’s son). Not much was happening when we visited the place, but I was told, that every Friday and Saturday night, they have an incredible fiesta with a live bands performing here.
Monasterio de San Fransisco
Another ”First One”, who would have thought. The Monasterio de San Fransisco is the first monastery in the New World and belonged to the first order of Franciscan friars. It is particularly magical at night when it’s lit up as a backdrop for jazz concerts and other free events. Sadly we only stayed in the city long enough to see the preparations for it, but not stay long enough for the actual fiesta.
The streets of Zona Colonial
One can find a lot of joy just exploring the hidden areas of Zona Colonial. Every single corner in Colonial City offers colorful buildings and vibrant streets. I’ll just mention some of my favourite.
Calle El Conde and Calle Arzobispo Meriño
…are two of Zona Colonial’s busiest pedestrian streets. The commercial walkway are lined with cafes, souvenir shops and painting stands.
Calle Jose Reyes
if you’re a fan of colorful walls you’ll find this steets very visually eye pleasing…
…is also a home to the most Insta-Worthy cafe/gallery/bookstore in Santo Domingo – Mamey Libreria Cafe. Stepping through the front door, you’re not too sure whether you’ve just been taleported to Middle East, seeing that open aired garden courtyard with vertical gardens, planters, fountains, and beautiful blue tiles.
Los Tres Ojos
Just a 15-minute drive away from Dominican’s capital you can find the Los Tres Ojos (The Three Eyes) National Park. It is a natural landscape of three lakes, which are situated within limestone caves. I mean if I’m being completely honest, the caves might seem really something special to someone who never visited Slovenia’s Karst region. But once you’ve seen Postojna Cave no other limestone formation will be able to impress you as much anymore.