25 April 2010

Santo Domingo in Photos

It was nice to get a couple days to actually see Santo Domingo after being here for nearly a week. I was so busy with the diving course that I didn't see much of anything until this weekend. Of all the Latin American cities I've been to, this place really stands out. Besides the horribly polluted air, Santo Domingo is much like cities in Europe with respect to history, museums, and monuments. The areas I've seen (which covers a large portion of the city) appear to have a great deal of wealth. Poverty is arguably less apparent here than it is in New York City, for example. I mentioned this to a local person who was curious about my travels and he agreed that you don't see it much here, but he said there are parts of the country that are deeply impoverished, such as his home city of Hato Mayor, where some residents still don't have plumbing or electricity.

I'll give a brief photographic commentary of the weekend:

Saturday Morning I took a walk along the esplanade, Avenida George Washington. This is looking West towards Malecon where the high rise hotels and casinos are.

Coincidentally there is a Washington Monument-like obelisk right in the middle of Avenida Geogre Washington. I couldn't find anything that identified what it commemorates.

This fortified tower stands at the corner of the Zona Colonial, which at one time was completely enclosed by walls.

Today, many sections of the wall have been removed to make way for modern road ways.

Puerta de la Misericordia (the Door of Mercy) was one of the original gateways into the city.

Puerta del Conde (the Door of the Count) is the more famous entrance to the city. It was through this gate that Juan Pablo Duarte (the Dominican equivalent of George Washington) led a bloodless coup ousting Haitian control.

From the other side. The Dominican flag flies on top of the gate where Duarte famously put it during his coup d'etat.

Outside of Puerta del Conde is Parque Independencia that contains a very modern looking mausoleum for Duarte and two other national heroes.

Inside the mausoleum there is an 8 meter tall statue of Duarte.

Calle El Conde is a foot-traffic only street through the middle of the Colonial Zone where tourists and locals alike gather throughout the day.

This "no frills" Chinese restaurant is hands-down the best food I've had in a long time. An entire meal cost be about 110 pesos, about $3!

A monument to Bartholomew Columbus, Christopher Columbus' brother. Bartholomew was put in charge as Governor of "La Isla Espanola" (The Spanish Island), which my guidebook explains is where we get the word Hispaniola.

Parque Colon (Columbus Park), is a nice shaded area to sit and cool off.

Local kids like to feed the pigeons, which are filthy and fat from all the free corn.

The center of the park has a huge monument to Christopher Columbus.

Columbus' monument features a Taino woman etching his name into the pedestal. She's using the title "Don," a sign of reverence. Which is a bit questionable since it was the European invasion that wiped out the Taino tribes.

Parque Colon is directly in front of Catedral Primada de America (the First Cathedral of America). It's actually the third Christian church built in the New World, but the oldest one that still survives.

It's actually still in use.

By chance, an orchesta practicing while I was there. It was an impressive sound that is certainly not captured on my video.

The first stone was laid in 1514 by Diego Columbus, the son of Christoper Columbus.

This skinny little horse looked so sad. I wanted to buy him some of those vegetables he has to pull around all day!

This was an interesting character.

You have to look out for these. They are all over the city. I'm not sure if it is what you'd call a "tourist trap."

Evidently, there is more poverty than is apparent. Sadly the only product in this store with an alarm is baby formula. 620 pesos is about $17.

Santo Domingo has lovely little side streets with cafes much like Europe. I get the impression Dominicans are proud of their European heritage. And from what little history I know of the country, it seems the degree to which you can claim European ancestry has much to do with your class. This was particularly the case under the Trujillo dictatorship.

Cristóbal Colón is the Spanish name for Christopher Columbus. The sign reads: "This house was the last home in America from 13 August until 11 September 1504 of Christopher Columbus, discoverer of the New World, Premier Admiral of the Ocean Sea, and the West Indies, Viceroy and Governor General. Commemoration of 505 years since his return to Spain."

This is the house where Columbus lived.

I spent about an hour or two in the Museo de las Casas Reales (Museum of the Royal Houses), which was at one time the seat of Spanish authority in the region.

Models of the Nina, Pinta, and the Santa Maria.

A massive Sugar Cane mill.

Which was, no doubt, operated by slaves.

Much of the collection was of antique weapons having nothing whatsoever to do with the Dominican Republic aside from the fact that they were collected by Trujillo.

I can picture the early colonists walking the streets with these strapped to their hips.

A Mongolian sword.

Double whammy. If being run through doesn't finish you off, surely the pistol will.

Knights in armor? This really could be Europe.

Santo Domingo was the center of Spanish conquest in the New World.

An inviting courtyard, except by this time of the day it was much to hot to be in direct sunlight.

Panteon de la Patria houses the remains of other national heroes.

Another sad horse. At least he had a bucket with some food.

A massive anchor recovered from a lost Galleon.

The final stop of the weekend was at Fortaleza Ozama, the "oldest colonial military edifice in the New World." It is part of the wall that encircles the entire Colonial Zone, but is where most of the artillery was concentrated. My guidebook says that "over the course of history, the fort has flown the flag of Spain, England, France, Haiti, Gran Columbia, the US and the DR." Sir Francis Drake, however, was the only one to take it by force.

The exterior walls are 2 meters thick and the windows are a narrow slit, allowing for easy firing out but difficult firing in.

Some more modern artillery is on display too. I'm not sure Drake would have stood a chance against this.

Peacocks roam the grounds. Strangely, the first thing I thought to myself was, those look good to eat.

On the walk back to the hotel, I came across this.

Okay, that wasn't a brief commentary at all. It was a full two days. But there's still a lot more to see. Santo Domingo is a place I wouldn't mind coming back to. Tomorrow morning (Monday), I'm headed back north. On the way, I'll be making a stop at the rural town of Jarabacoa.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, thanks for posting the photos. I lived there as an LDS missionary and I love Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic. I enjoyed the photos. these are some of the best photos online of Santo Domingo and I am using one of them as my desktop background (I hope you don't mind.) Thanks!