Santo Domingo Sights

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Zona Colonial Review

Spanish civilization in the New World began in Santo Domingo's 12-block Zona Colonial. As you stroll its narrow streets, it's easy to imagine this old city as it was when the likes of Columbus, Cortés, and Ponce de León walked the cobblestones, pirates sailed in and out, and colonists started settling. Tourist brochures claim that "history comes alive here"—a surprisingly truthful statement. Almost every Thursday to Sunday night at 8:30 a typical "folkloric show" is staged at Parque Colón and Plaza de España. During the Christmas holidays there is an artisans' fair and live-music concerts take place. A fun horse-and-carriage ride throughout the Zona costs $25 for an hour, with any commentary in Spanish. The steeds are no thoroughbreds, but they clip right along. You can also negotiate to use them as a taxi, say, to go down to the Malecón. The drivers usually hang out in front of the Hostal Nicolas de Ovando. History buffs will want to spend a day exploring the many "firsts" that happened here. You can get a free walking-tour map and brochures in English at the Secretaria de Estado de Turismo office at Parque Colón (Columbus Park), where you may be approached by freelance, English-speaking guides who will want to make it all come alive for you. They'll work enthusiastically for $25 an hour for four people. Wear comfortable shoes. Make certain that your guide-to-be is wearing a government-issued, pictured I.D. around his neck. Simply put, the Zona is not as safe as it once was—particularly at night and during festivals. Don't carry a lot of cash or your passport (keep them in the hotel safe). A money belt or neck wallet is always a recommended travel accessory. And always report any suspicious behavior and crime to the Politur.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Santo Domingo
  • Location: Santo Domingo
Updated: 03-20-2012

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