The Furniture In Your House Is Very Elegant In Spanish A Tourist Guide To The Colonial Zone, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

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A Tourist Guide To The Colonial Zone, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo is the oldest city in the New World and was founded by Christopher Columbus and his younger brother Bartholomew Columbus in 1496. The part of the city inhabited at the beginning of the 16th century is called the Colonial Zone (Zona Colonial in Spanish). The colonial zone boasts many firsts for the New World. The first cobbled street, a university, a cathedral, a castle, a monastery, a hospital and a fortress – to name a few. With beautiful architecture and a rich history, the colonial zone is a must-see when visiting Santo Domingo. The colonial zone was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

In the colonial zone, along with the beauty of historical buildings, you will find: hotels, restaurants, cafes, museums, bars, shops, etc. The two most famous streets in the colonial zone are Calle Las Damas (street of women) and Calle Conde. Calle Las Damas was the street where high society women walked after church for lunch. Calle Las Damas is a stunning street during the day, but it becomes even more stunning at night as the street lights turn the walls of the buildings into a beautiful shade of orange. With every step you take on the New World’s first cobbled street, you travel deeper in time until you feel like you’re in the 1500s next to Christopher Columbus himself.

hotels

There are many hotels to choose from and they offer a wide range of prices from economical to elegant. The nice thing about budget hotels in this area is that they are clean and staffed by friendly people – many of whom speak English. Keep in mind that these are old buildings and although they are clean, most of the rooms are small and have “old building” issues. Still, I think they offer a great experience in a great area for the price. There are many of these hotels and many of them offer different specialties at different times, so it is difficult to recommend one particular hotel. The reason I like hotels in this area is that when you walk out the door of your hotel, you don’t have to pay for a taxi to take you to a place to enjoy yourself. You are already at the #1 destination in Santo Domingo.

At the top end there are several hotels to enjoy, but I will be talking about Hodelpa Nicolas De Ovando. This hotel has spacious rooms, a nice courtyard to enjoy the evenings, a small bar, good food at the breakfast buffet and at dinner they have a great menu, but the two best aspects of this hotel are its history and its architecture. Nicolas de Ovando, a companion of Christopher Columbus, was the 3rd Governor of India and this hotel used to be his home and dates back to 1502. This hotel is located on Calle Las Damas (the first cobbled street) in one of the first houses built, so it doesn’t exist for me better place to stay to immerse myself in the culture of the oldest city in the New World. But don’t worry if the hotel is out of your budget, you can visit it and enjoy a cocktail at the bar or in the courtyard.

What to do and see

Walk

I highly recommend that you take a walking tour of Calle Las Damas and make it one of the first things you do when you arrive in the colonial zone. Once you understand the buildings and their history, you will be able to enjoy them more. For example, if you are sitting in the Spanish Square (Plaza Espana) enjoying a nice dinner, when you look across the square and see a stone building, it will no longer be just a stone building, because after walking around you will understand that this is the house of Christopher Columbus’ son, Diego Columbus.

As you walk down Calle Las Damas, you will be approached by guides who will offer you a walking tour. So far, every tour I’ve taken has been with guides who spoke excellent English. A walking tour usually takes two hours. I usually talk to the guide beforehand and ask them to hit the highlights and try to do the tour in 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The price for the tour is usually about 1000 Dominican pesos ($20 USD), but you can try to negotiate a lower price. The guides do a great job and are caring so I think they make $1000 pesos.

The next part will talk about some of the buildings that are worth seeing, and many of them will be part of the tour.

Buildings, museums and historical attractions

Santa Maria Cathedral / Santa Maria Cathedral– built in 1514, it is the first cathedral in America. This cathedral is an active cathedral and conducts services and has 7 beautiful chapels.

Alcázar de Colón is the house of the son of Christopher Columbus (Diego Columbus). This house has been converted into a beautiful museum with original furniture and reproductions of original furniture. A walk through this museum will give you a sense of how Columbus lived in the 1500s.

Plaza de España is a large, open meeting space that has 8 restaurants overlooking the square on one side and the Alcazar de Colon (home of Diego Columbus, son of Christopher Columbus) on the other. The square is located at the end of Calle Las Damas.

Calle Las Damas is probably the most historically significant street in the city. It was the first paved street in America, and it was also the street where high society women walked to lunch after church. The street is full of buildings dating back to the 1500s that have now been converted into museums, hotels, restaurants, etc. Draw history as you walk down this street.

Calle Conde is probably the 2nd most important street in the city. This street is closed to cars and is full of shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels and has a small park in the middle (Parque Colon) and on the other side of this street it has Parque Independencia (Independence Park).

Fortaleza Ozama is a 16th century castle built overlooking the Ozama River in the colonial zone. It is the oldest European-designed fort in America.

Ruins of San Francisco is the remains of a monastery built as a preparation for the Franciscan fathers in 1508. It is considered an important ruin and was the work of the governor Nicolas de Ovando.

PAnteon de la Patria originally a church for the Jesuits, it was later turned into a mausoleum to house the remains of some of the Dominican Republic’s most notable national, civil, and military heroes.

El Parque Colon (Columbus Park) it was the main gathering center for festivities in colonial times and is still there today. Located on Calle Conde opposite the Conde Hotel and adjacent to the Cathedral of Santa Maria, it’s a great place to sit on a park bench under a tree and take a break from visiting museums and ruins to immerse yourself in beauty and culture.

Restaurants, bars, cafes and night clubs

There are many restaurants, bars, cafes and nightclubs in the colonial zone. I will focus on the ones that have historical significance, the ones that I enjoyed, and the ones that our past clients have enjoyed.

Overlooking Plaza Espana (Spanish Square) and Alcázar de Colón (House of Deiga Columbus), there are 8 restaurants located in a row. Each has a menu posted outside the restaurant in Spanish and English. All 8 restaurants are elegant and one of these 8 is the longest running restaurant in the New World. Once owned by a one-legged pirate, Pate Palo (Wooden Leg) is a 500-year-old restaurant where Sir Francis Drake once ate. Whether you eat at Pate Palo or one of the other 8, you can’t go wrong choosing one of them.

There are several restaurants to choose from on Calle Conde. It is a casual dress for lunch and either a casual or a fancy casual evening. Segrefrados Italian Restaurant is a great place not only for food but also for people watching. In the morning they have great coffee to start the day and their pizzas are also delicious. For more traditional Dominican cuisine, you can visit the first floor of Hotel Conde. This restaurant has a terrace overlooking Parque Calon and the Cathedral de Santa Maria.

At the end of Calle Conde is a very famous cafe/restaurant called Grands, formerly Pacos. Open 24 hours a day, this restaurant is a great place to grab a coffee and breakfast to start your day. This is not a fancy place, but a regular cafe where you will see people gathering here every day of the week to enjoy good conversation over coffee and Dominican style food, regardless of the hour.

LuLus Tasting Bar is a great place to enjoy a cocktail and dinner. It’s a very trendy location that is upscale casual.

Onnos is a nightclub 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 other restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs to choose from, but I wanted to give you a list of what we think are our favorites. You will see many more as you walk around, if you see one you like, go in and enjoy.

In conclusion

Between history, museums, great restaurants, cafes and nightlife, the colonial zone should be a must for anyone visiting the Dominican Republic. This is an English speaking friendly area that is very safe to walk around as a tourist.

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