Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo

The Colonial City of Santo Domingo has high symbolic value as an early colonial settlement in the New World: it was founded in 1498.

It boasts the Western Hemisphere's first cathedral, its first monastery, its first hospital, its first university, and its first court of law.

The historic enclave of Santo Domingo, known as the Colonial City, covers three sq km. Inside the walls are dozens of historical buildings and sites, including palaces, forts, museums, and churches.





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Klaus Freisinger

Austria - 31-Jan-16 -

Santo Domingo by Klaus Freisinger

Santo Domingo's place in history is assured by being the oldest European town in the New World, founded in 1498 by Bartolomeo Colón, brother of Christopher Columbus. It was built according to the classic Spanish town plan (a central Plaza de Armas and streets crossing in right angles) that became a model for almost all cities in Latin America, and is home to the oldest cathedral, castle, monastery, fortress, university (and many other firsts) in the New World. Its position as the capital for all the Spanish domains did not last very long, as Havana was soon found to have a more favorable position, but the city did manage to preserve the remains from its glory days quite well. The star attraction is the well-preserved Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor, known as the Catedral Primada de América, the seat of the first Catholic diocese in the New World. It combines the expected Baroque ornamentation with Gothic features quite unusual on that side of the Atlantic. Next to the cathedral is the Parque Colón, a classic Spanish town square with a statue of Columbus, and just steps away is Calle las Damas, the oldest paved street in the New World. The Colonial Zone is not very big, and can easily be explored on foot; other buildings that I found interesting were the Alcázar de Colón (the former governor's mansion built for Christopher's son Diego, first Viceroy of the Indies, today a really well done museum), the Museo de las Cases Reales (the later residence of the colonial administration, also very interesting, but quite similar to the Alcázar), the Fortaleza Ozama (the oldest fortress still standing in the Americas), and the Plaza de España, a wide square where the WH inscription can be found. There are also various other historic buildings scattered throughout the Old Town, including the former residence of Hernán Cortés, conqueror of Peru, today the seat of the French Embassy, and the ruins of San Nicolás de Bari, the oldest hospital in the New World. It is clear that the Dominican Republic has invested quite a bit of money into the Colonial Zone to lure tourists away from the beaches, and for anyone interested in history, this is a great site to visit.

Stewart ayukawa

canada - 21-Mar-09 -

The Colonial Area of Santo Domingo is small, pedestrian and worth a couple of hours and then lunch. It's somewhat lacklustre despite its historical significance. Havana is much more impressive.

Philip T.K.

Canada -

Santo Domingo by Philip T.K.

Santo Domingo is a beautiful place. I went there on a day trip from Puerto Plata. The cathedral is pretty breaktaking and it's considered to be the first cathedral in the new world. While in Santo Domingo, I also visited El Alcázar de Colòn, which is an old restored house that belonged to Diego Columbus. I did not have time to visit the lighthouse where Christopher Columbus is buried however. Overall, Santo Domingo was well worth spending a day away from the beach.

Site Info

Full Name
Colonial City of Santo Domingo
Unesco ID
Dominican Republic
2 4 6
Urban landscape - Colonial

Site History

1990 Deferred

Better Info required

1990 Revision

Original proposal also included La Isabela and Concepcion de la Vega, now both separately on T List

1990 Inscribed


The site has 1 locations

Santo Domingo


The site has

Human Activity
Individual People
Religion and Belief
Science and Technology
WHS on Other Lists
World Heritage Process


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A. Mehmet Haksever Alberto Rodriguez Gutierrez Alex Pflugfelder Alexander Barabanov Alfonso Muralles Ali Zingstra Anne Brockenshire Artur Anuszewski Atuzhikova Aurelien Drilant-Abenascad Ben Mandel Bob Parda Bojana Bartol Bram de Bruin Briandaflyin Buffy Camille Cheryl Christoph Comensal Ctravel DOn Szumowski David Dove Deborah Caster Donald M Parrish Jr E.Xaus Eva Kisgyorgy FGKJR1492X G. ingraham G.L. Ingraham Gary Arndt Geoffrey A. P. Groesbeck George Evangelou Gernot Gi Gianmarco Gile363 Haining Guan Harald T. Howard Howard Brayer Hsaenzjr1 Iain Jackson If-pilot Inigo Cia Irena Klementov Iwilliams J Mitchell J?rg-Bernd Bonekamp JFrederking JP Jaroslav Klement Jgera João Aender Judit Dalla Judith Tanner JudyWalsh Juha Kokkonen Juhana Harju Julia.meyers22 Justin Rickey Karol Estrada Kasienka5 Kelly Henry Klaus Bondar Klaus Freisinger Koen Vliegenthart Loic Pedras Lorenzo Mejino Luis Filipe Gaspar Luis Salazar MMM Mary ann janicki Maxine Eisenberg Merveil Michael Ayers Michael Cummings Michael Novins Michal Marciniak Miguel Marchi Mikek Mikko Minkegirl Mitsidis72 Mkprescott MoPython Morodhi Niall Sclater Nomad99 Pascal Cauliez Patrick C. Venenoso Paul RYKEN Peter mathews Philip T.K. Qin Xie Roger Ourset Roman Bruehwiler Rudegirl Ryan Oliver Ryan09sb SHIHE HUANG Shaka_schulz Sharon M. Bressen Sibariam Simmot2019Z Solivagant Solivagant Cuban Steve Newcomer Sumiko Yabushita Susan Stair Suzanne Tammy Gouldstone Ted Barnett Thibault Magnien Thomas Buechler Tonioto Toya HornHoward Travelindan Truls Brekke Tsunami Yi Han Goh Yorch Zoë Sheng