Very near to the turquoise beaches, the almost endless palm groves, and the luxurious resorts, is the deep, mestizo country, with over 500 years of history and intense cultural crossovers. The ideal entry point to Dominican Republic is Santo Domingo, the oldest capital of the Americas and a modern city with a historic center that was included in the World Heritage list in 1990.
From its museums, squares, and streets with a colonial façade similar to Havana, Cartagena, or Old San Juan, you can visit the monumental Columbus Lighthouse and commemorate the many conquerors who left their shores for other lands, old witnesses to the voracity of the pirates working the Caribbean waters back in the XVI and XVII centuries and among who the Dominican Republic’s history particularly remembers Francis Drake, who dealt Santo Domingo a huge blow in 1586.
Beyond the Colonial City, with its aged palaces converted into warm cafes and bars, small hotels, and restaurants, is the Plaza de la Cultura, a quiet and green oasis that rounds up the Museo del Hombre Dominicano (Museum of the Dominican Man), the Museo de Arte Moderno (Museum of Modern Art), the Museo de Historia y Geografía (Museum of History and Geography), the Museo de Historia Natural (Museum of Natural History), the Biblioteca Nacional (National Library), and the Teatro Nacional (National Theater).
Santo Domingo is a diverse city, exposed to the sea and graced by art in stone and time. It is always surprising, from its Chinatown to Conuco, from Alcázar de Colón (where Diego, Christopher Columbus’s son lived) to the Museo del Ámbar (Ambar Museum) and the Mercado Modelo, a great Dominican crafts fair, from the Carnival and its February parades on the coastal George Washington Avenue, and the merengue orchestras at the Boulevard del Expreso de la Avenida 27 de Febrero.
Other cultural symbols of this destination are La Caleta Underwater National Park, with two sunken ship-museums for diving and its indigenous cemetery; the National Botanic Garden; nearby underground caves with subterranean lagoons and cave paintings; and sancocho soup and fish stew with coconut milk, which can be enjoyed in traditional restaurants.
Source: Excellences from the Caribbean & the Americas
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