Santo Domingo is a treasure trove of historic, architectural and cultural attractions.
The Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo is not merely home to the first Cathedral in the New World.
As the first city of the new world, Santo Domingo has a wonderful array of stunning ruins.
From the famous Botanical Gardens to the Colonial Zone’s Parque Colon.
Some Top Santo Domingo Attractions
Alcázar de Colón
The Alcázar de Colón is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Santo Domingo. The building dates from 1510 and is the oldest vice-regal residence in the Americas. It was originally the home of Diego Columbus, the governor of the colony and Christopher Columbus’ son. The palace was the center of the Spanish Court for nearly 60 years. It served as the headquarters for the Spanish conquests of Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guatemala, Peru, Florida, Colombia and Jamaica.
The beautifully restored building is an exceptional example of Spanish Colonial architecture. Now a museum, it displays a fascinating collection of European Late Medieval and Renaissance art. Highlights include polychrome wood sculptures and tapestries. Although many of the furniture items are reproductions, they give visitors an idea of what life was like in Colonial Santo Domingo.
Plaza de España
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9 am – 5 pm
Catedral Primada de América (Cathedral)
Another important Santo Domingo tourist attraction is the cathedral. The building is interesting both for its historical importance as the first cathedral in the New World and its architectural beauty. Construction began in 1514 and was completed in 1540. It combines a variety of architectural styles, including Gothic and Plateresque. Be sure to see the beautiful sculpted portals on the eastern (main) facade of the cathedral (around the corner from Parque Colón).
The interior of the cathedral features a nave and two side aisles, spectacular ribbed vaults and 12 side chapels. The cathedral also holds interesting period artwork, including altarpieces, paintings and sculptures.
Calle Arzobispo Meriño, Parque Colón
Hours: 9 am – 4 pm daily
Plaza de España
Plaza de España is a wide square that has beautiful views of the Alcázar and the Ozama River. It features a variety of restaurants with large outdoor terraces, as well as interior dining areas. These establishments are open for lunch and dinner.
Plaza de España is the perfect spot for an evening stroll, especially on Fridays and Saturdays when the Ministry of Tourism hosts traditional music and dance performances. The square also occasionally hosts other interesting events like antique car shows.
Between Calle Las Damas and Calle La Atarazana
Jardín Botánico Nacional
One of the top tourist attractions outside of the Colonial Zone, this beautifully maintained botanical garden has over 2 sq. km. of lush vegetation native to the island. The park can be explored on foot or by tourist train. Highlights include the Japanese garden, the flower clock, aquatic plants, orchids, ferns and more.
The Botanical Garden also has an Ecology Museum where visitors can learn more about the Dominican Republic’s different ecosystems. It provides information on mangrove forests, cloud forests and pine forests, as well as the island’s coastal environments.
This is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy nature.
Av. República de Colombia
Hours: Every day, 9 am – 6 pm