Day Tripping: Santo Domingo

Imagine cobblestone streets echoing with the footsteps of conquistadors, grand cathedrals reaching for the sky, and a rich colonial past whispering from every corner.

Welcome to Santo Domingo’s Ciudad Colonial, the oldest European settlement in the Americas and a treasure trove for history buffs and travel enthusiasts alike.

Ciudad Colonial is the historic central neighborhood of the Dominican Republic’s Santo Domingo. It’s the oldest established European settlement in the Americas.

The settlement, now known as Santo Domingo, was established by the younger brother of Christopher Columbus, Bartholomew Columbus near the end of the 15th century.

The Spanish used Santo Domingo as the hub from which they conquered other Caribbean islands and at one time the cultural hub for the Americas.

One of the most famous Santo Domingo governors was a

Spanish nobleman, Bernardo de Meneses y Bracamonte. He had fought in the Spanish-Anglo wars and was appointed governor and captain general, and bestowed the title of 1 Count of Penalva by Felipe IV. 

The beautiful city of Santo Domingo was invaded by the English with over 13,000 soldiers and 34 ships led by General Robert Venables and William Penn. Attacking the smaller force of 2,400 Spanish soldiers lead by Bernardo de Meneses y Bracamonte.

The English declared war on the Spain based on their religious differences which didn’t go well for them. Bernardo de Meneses y Bracamonte routed the British in a series of attacks, successfully defending the city.

Santo Domingo honored Bernado de Meneses y Bracamonte, Count of Penalva, with a street called El Conde Street. This street was one of the main streets and at the Puerta del Conde monument and ends at the stone staircase of that leads to the Francisco Alberto Caanano Avenue today.

As one of the oldest settlements it has a rich history and many historical sites to explore. Here are just a few of them:

* Alcázar de Colón, first castle or viceroyal residence in the Americas.

* Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, First Cathedral of the Americas

* Church and Convent of the Dominican Order, oldest church in the New World

* Fortaleza Ozama, oldest fortress in America

* Museo de las Casas Reales, before the Palace of the Real Audiencia of Santo Domingo

Throughout the city the influence of Spanish colonial architecture is prevelent with white stucco walls, soft arches, and carved wooden doors. The architectural style keeps the interior cool on hot days and yet warm at night, through small windows and wooden shudders, that natually regulate the temperature.

Now that your intrigued to know more abou the history of Santo Domingo, you return for more exciting tidbits.

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