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The Essential Guide to Santo Domingo

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As the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the New World, Santo Domingo (initially called Nuevo Isabela) set the bar for future colonial cities in the Americas. Along its Calle Las Damas—the oldest paved street in the Americas—visitors will find an array of 16th-century buildings, including the Alcazar de Colón, Museo de las Casa Reales, and the Fortaleza Ozama, built to protect the entrance to the harbor. Also worth seeing is the former residence of explorer Hernán Cortés and the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, which features a cannonball lodged in the roof from a battle between the French and the British in 1809.
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Santo Domingo 10212, Dominican Republic
Don’t miss this Gothic Renaissance palace in the Zona Colonial, built between 1510 and 1514 for Christopher Columbus’ eldest son, Diego Colón (governor of the colony and viceroy of the Indies), and his wife, Maria de Toledo...
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Calle Las Damas, Santo Domingo 10210, Dominican Republic
At the top of Calle Las Damas—where Maria de Toledo (the niece of King Ferdinand of Spain) and her ladies in waiting strolled in fine dresses every afternoon—you’ll find the former Spanish Governor’s Royal Court, made up of...
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Playa Guayacanes, 21000, Dominican Republic
Just 31 miles east of Santo Domingo, the small fishing village of Guayacanes boasts an uncrowded, white-sand beach with gentle surf and plenty of shallow water. A lush backdrop and tall coconut palms offer some shady spots, and umbrellas and...
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Santo Domingo 21000, Dominican Republic
Just east of Guayacanes, this six-mile stretch of sand is a favorite of beach bums, with calm waters at one end of the cove and big waves at the other. Busier than Playa Guayacanes, Juan Dolio also offers more food and drink options, plus...
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Calle Hostos, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Built between 1503 and 1508, this Gothic Renaissance relic with Moorish arches was the first hospital in the New World. Named for the patron saint of cures, it was designed in the shape of a Latin cross—the center nave was used for worship...
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Parque Billini, Ciudad Colonial, Santo Domingo 10210, Dominican Republic
One block down from the oldest cathedral in the New World, this former colonial home on Plazoleta Padre Billini is the place to go at least once, whether for the hearty tapas, affordable tasting menu, expertly prepared cocktails, all-you-can-eat...
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Calle Hostos # 302, Santo Domingo 10210, Dominican Republic
You could easily pass by this two-story, 16th-century blue house in the Zona Colonial without realizing there’s a restaurant inside, but step through the red door and you’ll find brightly colored walls covered with paintings for sale...
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Plaza Espana, Ciudad Colonial, Santo Domingo 10210, Dominican Republic
Experience living history at this charming European brasserie, housed in a space that’s thought to have been the first tavern in the Americas. Opened in 1505 by a Dutch pirate, Pata de Hierro was a favorite hangout of buccaneers on Plaza...
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Calle Padre Billini No. 252, Santo Domingo 10210, Dominican Republic
At this luxury collection of six historic homes—some from the 16th century—guests can book a bedroom or an entire house, all within blocks of Santo Domingo’s most important attractions. You won’t find out which room or home...
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Cuidad Colonial, Calle Las Damas, Santo Domingo 10210, Dominican Republic
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this hotel was the home of Hispaniola’s first governor, Nicolás de Ovando, and one of the first colonial structures built at the top of cobbled Calle Las Damas (the first paved street in the Americas)....