Fodor's Expert Review Monasterio de San Francisco
Constructed between 1512 and 1544, the St. Francis Monastery contained the church, convent, and hospital of the Franciscan order. Sir Francis Drake's demolition squad significantly damaged the building in 1586, and in 1673 an earthquake nearly finished the job, but when it's floodlit at night, the eerie ruins are dramatic indeed. The Spanish government has donated money to turn this into a beautiful cultural center, but we are still waiting. In the meantime, there's music many nights at 7 pm (often live) and on Sunday night from 5 to 10 pm. These performances are by bands with different music genres—merengue, jazz, etc. The scene is like an old-fashioned block party. Zone residents mingle with expats and tourists, who snap pictures of the octogenarians dancing the merengue and the bachata. Others who come are content to just sit in white plastic chairs, swaying and clapping. It's nice.