Santo Domingo is the oldest city in the New World. It was founded in 1496 by Christopher Columbus and his brother Bartholomew Columbus. The part of the city inhabited in the early 1500s is called the Zona Colonial (Spanish). The colony area has many new world firsts. The first paved street, universities, cathedrals, castles, monasteries, hospitals and fortresses-to name a few. With beautiful architecture and rich history, the colonial area is a must-see when visiting Santo Domingo. The colony is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
In the colonial area, together with the beauty of historical buildings, you will find: hotels, restaurants, cafes, museums, bars, shops, etc. The two most famous streets in the Colonial District are Calle Las Damas (Ladies) and Calle Conde. Calle Las Damas (Calle Las Damas) is a church street where high-class women walked on their way to lunch. During the day, Calle Las Damas is an amazing street, but at night, when the street lights turn the walls of the building a beautiful orange, it becomes even more amazing. Every step you take on the first paved street in the new world will take you back to a deeper time until you seem to be in Christopher Columbus’s 1500 trail.
There are many hotels to choose from, and they offer a variety of prices from economy to elegance. The good thing about budget hotels in the area is that they are clean and tidy, with friendly staff-many speak English. Keep in mind that these are old buildings. Although they are clean, most of the rooms are small and have problems with “old buildings”. However, in terms of price, I think they provide a great experience on a large scale. There are many of these hotels, and many offer different special offers at different times, so it is difficult to recommend a specific hotel. The reason I like hotels in this area is that when you walk out of the hotel door, you can take you to a place where you can enjoy without paying a taxi. You are already ranked first in Santo Domingo.
At the high end, there are several hotels to enjoy, but I will talk about Hodelpa Nicolas De Ovando. This hotel has spacious rooms, a beautiful backyard for you to enjoy the evening, and a small bar that serves delicious food for buffet breakfast and dinner. The menu is great, but the two best aspects of this hotel are it History and architecture. Christopher Columbus’s travel companion, Nicolas de Ovando, was the third governor of India. This hotel was once his residence and its history can be traced back to 1502. The house built first, for me, there is no better place to stay, allowing you to immerse yourself in the oldest urban culture in the new world. But don’t worry about whether the hotel is over budget, you can visit and enjoy cocktails in the bar or courtyard.
Things to do and see
I strongly recommend that you take a walking tour on Calle Las Damas and make it the first thing to do when you arrive in the colonial area. After understanding the buildings and their history, you will be able to appreciate them even more. For example, if you are sitting in Plaza Espana for dinner, when you look at the square and see a stone building, it will no longer be just a stone building, because after a hike, you will realize that this is Christopher · The house of Diego Columbus, the son of Columbus.
When walking along Calle Las Damas, your guide will contact you and they will provide you with a walking tour. So far, every trip I have taken is to speak fluent English with the tour guide. The hike usually lasts two hours. I usually talk to the tour guide first, and then ask them to focus on and try to complete the tour within 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The cost of this trip is usually around $1,000 Dominican Pesos ($20 USD), but you can try to negotiate at a lower price. The tour guides do a good job and care about me, so I think they can make $1,000 pesos.
The next section will discuss some buildings worth seeing, many of which will be included in the tour.
Buildings, museums and historical sites
Cathedral of Santa Maria/Cathedral of Santa Maria-Built in 1514, it was the first cathedral in America. This cathedral is an active cathedral, provides services, and houses 7 beautiful churches.
Alcázar de Colón It is the house of the son of Christopher Columbus (Diego Columbus). This home has been turned into a beautiful museum with some original furniture and some reproductions of original furniture. Walking in this museum, you will feel the life of Columbus in the 1500s.
Plaza of Spain It is a large open assembly area with 8 restaurants overlooking the square on one side, and Alcazar de Colon (the house of Diego Columbus, Christopher Columbus’s son) on the other side. The square is located at the end of Calle Las Damas.
Calalas damas Probably the most important street in the history of the city. This is the first paved street in America, and it is also the street where high-class women walked down after attending lunch at the church. This street is full of buildings from the 1500s, now it has become a museum, hotel, restaurant, etc. Walk along this street, you can learn history.
Calle Conde Probably the second most important street in the city. Cars are prohibited on this street, shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels are everywhere, and there is a small park (Cologne Park) in the middle and Independence Park (Independence Park) on the other side of the street.
Ozama Fortaleza It is a castle built in the 16th century, overlooking the Ozama River in the colonial area. This is the oldest European design fortress in the Americas.
San Francisco Ruinas It is the remains of a monastery built in 1508 in preparation for the Father of the Franciscans. This is considered an important ruin and is the work of Governor Nicolas de Ovando.
PPort of Patria Originally a church built for the Jesuits, it was later turned into a mausoleum to house the remains of some of the most famous national, civilian and military heroes of the Dominican Republic.
El Parque Colon (Columbus Park) It used to be the main hub for celebrations during the colonial era, and it still remains today. It is located on the opposite side of Conde Street and the Santa Maria Cathedral is opposite the hotel. It is sitting on a park bench under a tree. It is a good place to visit the museums and ruins to relax and appreciate the beauty and culture.
Restaurants, bars, cafes and nightclubs
There are many restaurants, bars, cafes and nightclubs in the colonial area. I will focus on the historically significant ones, the ones I like and the ones that our past customers like.
Overlooking Plaza de España (Spain Square) and Alcazar de Colon (Deigo Columbus’s former residence), there are 8 restaurants in total. Each of them has a Spanish and English menu at the front of the restaurant. All these 8 restaurants are elegant, and 8 of them are the longest restaurants in the New World. Pat Pallow (Wooden Legs) was once owned by a legged pirate. It is a 500-year-old restaurant where Sir Francis Drake dines. Whether you are dining at Pate Palo or one of the other 8 restaurants, you can’t go wrong with one of them.
On Conde Street, there are several restaurants to choose from. Casual clothes are worn at lunch and casual or high-end casual clothes at night. Segrefrados is an Italian restaurant, not only a place to eat, but also a great place to watch the crowd. They start your day with a cup of coffee in the morning and their pizzas are also great. To taste more traditional Dominican cuisine, you can visit the first floor of Hotel Conde. This restaurant has a terrace overlooking Parque Calon and Santa Maria Cathedral.
At the end of Calle Conde is a very famous cafe/small restaurant called Grands, formerly Pacos. This restaurant is open 24 hours a day and is a great place to start the day with coffee and breakfast. This is not a fancy place, but an ordinary cafe. On any day of the week, you will see people gather here to talk freely with their coffee and Dominican-style food, anytime you can.
LuLus Tasting Bar is a great place to enjoy cocktails and dinner. This is a very fashionable place, a high-end leisure place.
Onnos is a nightclub located in the center of the colonial district, where you can listen to the favorite music of various countries (Bachata, Merengue and Salsa).
As I mentioned before, there are more restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs to choose from, but I want to give you a list of the choices we think are the most popular. As you walk around, you will see a lot of other people, if you like someone, just enjoy it.
Between history, museums, excellent restaurants, cafes and nightlife, the colonial area is a must-visit for anyone visiting the Dominican Republic. This is a friendly area that speaks English and is very safe for tourists.