Although it has been sleeping for decades, this was a dynamic city in its heyday, and it is coming back. You can get a feeling for this past in the magnificent Victorian gazebo in the central Parque Independencia. Painted a crisp white, the park looks postcard pretty, with gleaming new statuary. On Puerto Plata's own Malecón, which has had a multimillion-dollar refurbishment, the Fortaleza de San Felipe protected the city from
many a pirate attack and was later used as a political prison. Nearby, a new amphitheater is in the planning stages. The nearby lighthouse has been restored. Big changes are in store in this town, which is just realizing what it needs to do to become a tourist destination. The Office of Cultural Patrimony, which has done an admirable job of pulling the Zona Colonial from the darkness, is at work. Simultaneously, a group of private business owners and investors have developed a long-term plan for beautifying this city, which has hundreds of classic wooden gingerbread buildings. Mansions, including Casa Olivores and the Tapounet family home, are being restored; a Victorian mansion on Calle Jose del Carmen is now a gallery and coffee shop. Architect Sara Garcia is redesigning the family home of Independence hero Gregory Luperon to create a museum for national heroes.