Plaza Bartolomé de las Casas is a beautiful gated park in the center of the Colonial Zone. The plaza is surrounded by trees and flowers, and the statue of Las Casas is in the center of it all. This well-maintained plaza is a wonderful place to sit and relax.
This Plaza is named after Friar / Frey Bartolomé de las Casas. He was known as the Royal Protector of the Indians. Las Casas was a very respected person in colonial times. His home, built in the mid 1600s, was located where the plaza is now.
Surrounded by a wall and fence, this nice little plaza has many well cared for plants and trees. There is even a mango tree where, if you are lucky, you can pick a nice fresh mango in season.
There are many concerts and special events held in the plaza. It was once the home to the Feria Artesanal where artists would set up their booths and sell their craft and handmade items.
The grand modern statue of Fray Bartolomé Las Casas in the center of the park was created by Juan de Vaquero.
Cementerio Nacional de la Avenida Independencia/ National Cemetery on Avenue Independencia
The Cementerio Nacional on Ave. Independencia, Santo Domingo, is the first national cemetery in the Dominican Republic. They inaugurated it during the Haitian occupation by Haitian President Jean Pierre Boyer, August 29, 1824. The cemetery has been closed since 1965. The last persons interred there were constitutional soldiers who died during the civil war.
This large gated cemetery, with an area of 16,000 square meters and 3,275 graves, has been around for over 500 years. Surrounded by a wall, it was a commonplace to execute people. María Trinidad Sánchez and Antonio Duvergé were both executed here.
Persons Buried in the Cemetery
Buried beneath the soil is history in abundance. Yet we will never know all who are buried in this disorganized resting place as many of the graves are not marked and have been destroyed by time and looters.
Buried in the Cementerio Nacional are many of the founders and the people who created Santo Domingo. There are people who died because of different plagues that spread throughout the country. Many of those interred here are children and infants. Represented here are the dead from hurricane San Zenón that took. They have laid many races and nationalities to rest in this bleak but interesting place. There are people from the Haitian occupation buried here with their tombstones written in French. Buried here are casualties from many wars and conflicts that occurred in the Dominican Republic including, The War of Restauración, Annexation to Spain, The War of Independence, The Intervention of the US Marines (6 Marines are buried here). There are tombs of many of the Dominican Republic Presidents here including Francisco Gregorio Billini Aristy, El Padre Billini and José Núñez de Cáceres (1772-1846).
The Cementerio Nacional de la Avenida Independencia was declared a Patrimonio Cultural/ Cultural Patrimony historical site in 1987. It is still highly ignored by the Dominican people. Street people can be seen sleeping on pieces of cardboard outside the gates at night. There are rats scurrying along doing who knows what in the dark cemetery.
Passing by in the daylight one can always see dogs inside the gates. Sleeping on a grave. Could it be the grave of its master? One day I saw a dog lying atop a grave chewing on a large bone. Makes one think…
I urge everyone to visit this interesting yet sad cemetery. Take a walk, view the tombs and the strange grave markers from times past. But, please only go in the daylight hours and be cautious of your surroundings.
Go to the beginning (west) of the Conde at Independencia Park. Turn left (south) walking in front of the park. Take the first road to the right (south), Ave. Independencia (at the end of Arz. Nouel the street name changes), and continue walking up this street (away from the Colonial Zone). The cemetery is 2 blocks up on the left.
The Palacio Consistorial, located in the Colonial City / Ciudad Colonial of Santo Domingo, was the original location of the old town hall. It is the oldest Town Hall in The Americas. Not only has this historical building witnessed unrivaled events in the history of The Dominican Republic, but it is also the place where many of the most important decisions of the country have been made.
The Palacio Consistorial was built between 1502 and 1504. It has been remodeled many times during its lifetime in which much of the original facade has been hidden and covered over.
The Palace was remodeled between 1911 and 1913 by the architect Osvaldo Báez Machado (Machado also remodeled the Iglesia de la Altagracia and The Hospital Padre Billini). He changed the edificio to have a neoclassical style that was very popular at that time.
The porch on the ground level runs along the entire building and the second floor boasts a large curved corner balcony and small balconies with iron railing.
Museo de la Villa de Santo Domingo
The interior of the Consistorial, also known as the Museo de la Villa de Santo Domingo, has a large central patio. It is exquisite with the beautiful fountain and surrounding terraces. An elegant staircase rises to the second floor. Along with the busts of the Padres de la Patria (Juan Pablo Duarte, Francisco del Rosario Sanchez and Ramon Matias Mella), there is a beautiful antique grand piano and crystal chandeliers.
In 1939 the exiled Spanish Architect Tomas Auñón made the interior woodwork and trim. In 1944, Vela Zanneti, the great Spanish muralist, made the mural that tells the history of the city. Starting with the loves of Miguel y Catalina up to the Era of Trujillo. The art emphasizes the San Zenón Hurricane that in 1930 marked the beginning of the 31 years of Trujillo’s dictatorship.
The most notable aspect of this historic building, the 95 foot high (29 meter) clock tower / torre del reloj. The tower was added during the time of Trujillo. The top of the tower has a crowned dome known as El Vivaque. The tower has a clock on its front that in old times was an important time peace in the city. Now, it is just for show.
For years the building was part of the Banco de Trabajadores. For a time it was a jail and a police station. Now the building houses Ayuntamiento del Distrito Nacional. It is also a beautiful and elegant space for art exhibitions and cultural activities.
This tower of the Consistorial Palace is an iconic part of the Colonial Zone. If you lose your way in the Colonial Area just look to the sky for this tower with the clock (usually the clock is not working). This unique tower can be seen from most of the surrounding Colonial Zone area. If you become lost or can’t remember how to get back to the Conde just locate the tower and head towards it.
– The building and its tower look like it is leaning towards the street. This, I am told, is an optical illusion.
The Consistorial Palace and the Museo de la Villa de Santo Domingo is on the corner of Calle El Conde and Arzobispo Meriño, at Parque Colon. Just look up and you will see the distinctive tower.
All You Want To Know About The Oldest City In The Americas
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