When you think of the Dominican Republic, you might imagine white sandy beaches and blue water. While these are staples of the Dominican Republic and a must-see when you are in the country, there are plenty of historic sites to check out too.
Although historic sites can be found all over the country, the best place to start is in Punta Canta. It’s the capital of the Dominican Republic and is where most people begin their journey in this beautiful country.
Make sure to get your finances sorted before traveling as exchanging money and using local ATMs can be expensive and time-consuming.
Altos De Chavon
Altos de Chavon is about an hour’s drive from the downtown area of Punta Canta. It looks like a small European city and it’s full of history and culture. It’s one of the most visited places in the Dominican Republic for myriad reasons.
When in this small town, you can visit a cultural center as well as a museum. It’s also home to the famous church St. Stanislaus Church. Make sure to go inside and see the stunning paintings and other pieces of art.
They also have guided tours of the Chavon River. You can take a group tour in a larger boat or do something romantic with your significant other in a smaller boat.
Santo Domingo was one of the very first cities visited by Europeans on this side of the globe. It’s considered the first city in America. When here you can see the first hospital, the first modern streets, the first university, and the first cathedral.
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so you can be sure there is plenty of history here. There have been new buildings built and quite a few remodelings, so the city is the perfect mix of old and new.
It still has many of the original cobblestone streets though and the traditional colonial architecture.
San Felipe Fortress
The San Felipe Fortress is located in Puerto Plata. It was built by Spain all the way back in the 16th century making it one of the oldest forts on the island. It was originally built to fight against the French, British, and Dutch.
In the 19th century though, it became a prison. If you visit the fort, you can go inside and tour it as it has been turned into a museum. You can see the old military weapons and canons as well as chambers where they kept prisoners.
Puerto Plata also has many other things to do if you want to stay in the area for a while before heading back to Punta Canta or wherever else you might be staying.
One of the most famous things to do in Puerto Plata besides the fort is the Isabel Torres Mountain. It has a large Christ statue at the top of the mountain and a botanical garden. You can take a cable car to the top to get some of the most beautiful views of the city below.
Santiago is the second-largest city in the Dominican Republic, so many tourists and foreigners like to spend time here. It’s also the hub of the Dominican Republic’s educational and financial institutions, so you might spend time here if you are traveling on a school trip or a business trip.
Santiago is also famous for the El Monumento as locals call it. You might hear foreigners and tour agencies call it the Monument of the Heroes Restoration. It’s 230 feet tall and was built in honor of men and women who fought in the War of Restoration.
This war was the second independence war. On the ground floor, there is a small museum where you can see paintings, murals, and statues. During certain months, you can also go to the top of the monument and see aerial views of Santiago.
Your tour agency will be able to tell you if the monument is open to go to the top or not. While you can head to your next destination after seeing the Santiago monument, many people choose to stay in Santiago for the bars and nightlife.
Santiago also has a young population that likes to party and stay out late if you’re looking for a livelier pastime.
This cathedral is considered to be one of the most important religious buildings in the entire DR. It has a 225-foot arch that is famous. The gold and bronze entrance with the 45 bells is also well-known and famous on Instagram.
The altar is also famous as it has a painting of the Virgin Mary going back all the way to the 16th century. The church itself was built in 1976. If you are here during the month of August, you will see a large pilgrimage. It can make the area very crowded, but it’s a very special time to visit the cathedral.
Cathedral Primade de America
This is said to be the first cathedral that was built in the Americas. It was built in 1540. It’s still a functioning church so you can go during mass or you can go during the week and just tour the church.
The cathedral still has all the original components from the 16th century including the original Mahogany doors to the entrance. It also has a silver altar and a famous painting of the Virgin Mary from 1520.
Museo de las Casas Reales
This building was built originally to hold the main Spanish government offices that they wanted in the New World. However, since the 1970s, it has been a museum where you can see the history of the Dominican Republic including a weapon collection and colonial furnishings.
When traveling to the Dominican Republic, it’s important to experience the culture of the region by also visiting some of the historic sites. They can be found all over the country including in the most popular cities.
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