27 May 2010

Zona Colonial

Very few cities can lay claim to have changed the world forever - Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London and New York are obvious champions to that title but nestled on the southern coast of the island of Hispaniola, facing the calm blue Caribbean sea, the city of Santo Domingo is probably the most unlike contender to the title.

Over the next week with the help of friends (Melisa, Alex, Aida, Jorge.. ) I will try to understand the city that was at the heart of the European discovery of the new world :-) ... For over two centuries it is from here that the Spanish controlled their greatest find - the Americas.

At the heart of what is today the sprawling capital city of the Dominican Republic is a little bit of Europe - the Zona Colonial - the nerve center of Spanish empire,
(Alcazar Virreinal de Don Diego Colon at the Plaza de Espana)

it is in tiny yet beautiful buildings like this one above that the history of the world was rewritten - with seemingly inconsequential decisions a continent of rich civilizations was plunder.. slavery at a larger scale then ever imagined enforced and the map of the world redrawn! But the irony or probably the beauty of it all is that if it wasn't for Melisa/Alex guided tours and the books I read I would have never imagined that this almost perfect piece of city was capable of such mammoth endeavors!

At the center of Zona Colonial stands the man who single-handedly can be held responsible for the sea of change that would unfold on the continent- Christopher Columbus.
Standing proudly here at the Parque Colon square defiantly pointing towards Europe!

Behind him stands the impressive city cathedral - Catedral Santa María La Menor,

also called La Catedral Primada de América

which like most other institutions in the city - hospital /nunnery /university- are proud holders of the title 'first in the new world'...

the ruins of the Monasterio de San Francisco

the Fortaleza Ozama (above) is the oldest formal military construction still standing in America.

... some photos taken along Calle Las Damas

a couple of photos inside the Panteon Nacional
and a few photos from here and there inside the colonial zone
building at the corner of Plazoleta Padre Billini

the Palacio de Borgella
Antiguo Palacio Consistorial - the former city hall is the white building with the spire in the corner
the beautiful Convento de la Orden de los Predicadores next to Parque Duarte

and 3 photos along El Conde -the main pedestrian/tourist street of the Zona Colonial - to end this post

another image of the Antiguo Palacio Consistorial (this time on the right)
Over the next few posts I shall explore parts of the city (both inside and outside the colonial zone) and even make a few forays into the islands beautiful tropical landscape.

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