Category Archives: Buildings/Edificios-Monuments/Monumentos

Faro a Colón / Columbus Lighthouse

Faro a Colón/ Columbus Lighthouse

The Faro a Colón/ Columbus Lighthouse is a massive building shaped like a cross. The Faro or Lighthouse was built to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Admiral Cristobal Colón / Christopher Columbus to Santo Domingo in Las Americas in 1492. It sits on a large lot of land with reflecting pools on either side of the entrance (the only time there is water in the pools now is if it rains). There is a sidewalk where you can walk completely around the monstrous building and take in the views of the Caribbean Sea and the city of Santo Domingo in the distance. There are also pathways on the property where you can meander about.

The Faro a Colón standing majesticly as the sun brightens the sky.
The Faro a Colón standing majesticly as the sun brightens the sky.

The Design

This monuments design was chosen out of many applicants from the world over. The jury chose the design of Joseph Lea Gleave from England. His design was described as “an enormous cross-shaped structure designed to last for all times”. The jury described his design in this way, “THE DESIGN, MAKING WONDERFUL USE OF LIGHT, TAKES REFUGE IN A DIRECTNESS, SIMPLICITY AND FORCE WORTHY OF THE MONUMENTS OF THE AGES. THE DESIGN IS SYMBOLIC, BUT NOT TO THE EXTENT WHERE SYMBOLISM INTERFERES WITH THE SIMPLE BEAUTY OF THE WORK AS ARCHITECTURE. SEEN FROM THE AIR, OR FROM ITS SURROUNDINGS, THE SIMPLE MASS BECOMES A NOBLE ELEMENTAL FEATURE OF THE GROUND AND OF A CHARACTER WORTHY OF THE STEADFAST COURAGE AND FAITH OF THE GREAT DISCOVERER IT COMMEMORATES”.

The Faro a Colón entrance.
The Faro a Colón entrance.

Inguration

The Columbus Lighthouse was inaugurated Oct. 6, 1992 by President Joaquin Balaguer Ricardo. At the commemoration ceremony, the remains of Columbus were carried from the First Cathedral of the Americas through the streets, across the river and to their new resting place inside this enormous monument.

The Popemobile located outside of the Faro a Colón. Pope John Paul II rode in it when he visited Oct. 9-to-13, 1992 for the inaguration of the Lighthouse.
The Popemobile located outside of the Faro a Colón. Pope John Paul II rode in it when he visited Oct. 9-to-13, 1992 for the inaguration of the Lighthouse.

The ceremony was even attended by Pope John Paul II. The Popes Pope-Mobile can be seen parked outside of the entrance to the Faro.

Isabel la Católica statue at the Faro a Colón
Isabel la Católica statue at the Faro a Colón

The Entrance

A statue of Queen Isabel la Católica marks the entrance to the Faro as you approach on Ave. Mirador del Este. Queen Isabel la Católica, Queen of Castile, commissioned Cristobal Colón voyage to the New World.

Many different nations falgs line the walkway entrance to the Faro a Colón / Columbus Lighthouse
Many different nations falgs line the walkway entrance to the Faro a Colón / Columbus Lighthouse

There is a large paved walk and grand stairs that lead up to the entrance of the Faro. The walkway is lined by many different countries flags waving in the breeze.

Christopher Columbus, Coat of Arms / Cristóbal Colón, Escudo de Armas
Christopher Columbus, Coat of Arms / Cristóbal Colón, Escudo de Armas

On the entrance walkway you will notice the Christopher Columbus, Coat of Arms / Cristóbal Colón, Escudo de Armas. It is divided into 4 sections.
1) A castle of gold / Un castillo de oro
2) Lion crowned in gold with silver background / En campo de plata un leon rampante de gules coronado de oro
3) Islands of gold in a blue background / En campo de azur unas islas de oro
4) Five gold ancors in a blue background / En campo de azur cinco ancoras de oro, puestas en aspa.
Entado en punta de oro con una banda de azur y el jefe de
gules.

The bust of President Joaquin Balaguer Ricardo at the entrance to the Faro a Colón
The bust of President Joaquin Balaguer Ricardo at the entrance to the Faro a Colón

Climbing the stairs to the front gate there is a bust of President Joaquin Balaguer watching over all who enter.

Looking in the side entrance of the Faro a Colón
Looking in the side entrance of the Faro a Colón

The museum and chapel inside and it also is a repository for numerous documents and artifacts associated with the early Spanish Colonial times. There are rooms dedicated to the Latin America Countries displaying many different artifacts and items of interest from the represented country.

The Faro a Colón / Columbus Lighthouse reflected in the rain water filled reflecting pool.
The Faro a Colón / Columbus Lighthouse reflected in the rain water filled reflecting pool.

The Building and Light

The Faro a Colón is 693ft (211m) long East to West and 195 long feet North to South. This massive monument is 45 feet high. It was built in the shape of a cross at a 45-degree angle. It has 4 bronze lions and the feminine figurine that represents the Dominican Republic.

Columbus remains guarded by 2 lions inside the Columbus Lighthouse.
Columbus remains guarded by 2 lions inside the Columbus Lighthouse.

The building, in my opinion, is quite ugly from the outside. Its huge grey shape can be seen from a great distance even high in the air. The most impressive part of the structure is when they turn on the 157 beams of light illuminating the night sky with its brilliant cross. Now, the light is only turned on for special occasions because of the cost and problems with the electricity in the country. The light, it is said, can be seen in Puerto Rico on a clear night. It is very beautiful and quite impressive to see this cross-shaped beam of light shining in the night sky.

The entrance walk and stairs to the Faro a Colón
The entrance walk and stairs to the Faro a Colón

Columbus Remains

There is still much debate on whether the remains located in the Faro really belong to Christopher Columbus. Spain also claims to have his remains. Neither country wants DNA tests done on the bones in their possession so it will remain a mystery. To read more on this
Faro a Colon – Indiana.edu
and
Columbus Remains Found In Spain – CBSNews

The Faro a Colón with a beautifully lit sky.
The Faro a Colón with a beautifully lit sky.

Hours-Location

The lighthouse was remodeled in August 2008 and most recently in 2018. The streets have been repaved, the interior has been cleaned and bad floors replaced. New lighting has been installed.

Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 5pm (there is a small admission fee) Phone – 809-591-1492

Directions: Ave. Mirador del Este, Santo Domingo Este. It is about a 30 minute walk from Plaza España in the Colonial Zone.

Casa Reales – The Building and The Museum

Casa Reales – The Building and the Museum

The fusion of three different colonial houses come together to form the Casa Reales. Originally built in 1508 it is now the home of a very informative museum explaining the rich history of this island and the country of Dominican Republic. It also houses a collection of weapons once owned by the Dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina.

Las Casas Reales / The Royal Houses | The Museo / Museum | Location, Hours and Cost

Casa Reales seen from Rio Ozama
Casa Reales seen from Rio Ozama

History

The original house, built in 1508, was a property of the treasurer Cristóbal de Santa Clara. A few years later it was confiscated for debts and became the property of the of the crown.

Casa Reales front entrance
Casa Reales front entrance

The Casa de Contratación, an adjacent property, was built in the year 1504 and became the residence of the Governor or Captain General of the island.

In the 1520s

the space between these two buildings was filled and the 3 buildings became one, a palace dedicated to La Real Audiencia de Santo Domingo / The Royal Audience of Santo Domingo.

The original three buildings were occupied by el Gobernador / Governor, Presidente de la Real Audiencia / President of the Royal Audience and El Capitán General / Captain General. By the end of the 1500s the three buildings were put together because all the offices were held by the same person.

Casa Reales side window
Casa Reales side window

This building was home to the government palace until the Trujillo Era when the new Government Palace was built. Then President Joaquín Balaguer restored the building and converted the buildings into a Historical Museum.

Casa Reales window above the front entrance
Casa Reales window above the front entrance.

The arched gothic style windows on the second floor was where the Royal Court was held. It gave a perfect view of the Sun Dial in the plaza. This is how the court knew the correct time to write on the official documents.

Reloj del Sol in front of Casa Reales
Reloj del Sol in front of Casa Reales

The Museum

Museo Casa Reales Coach and typical dress
Museo Casa Reales Coach and typical dress

Casa Reales Museo was created by President Balaguer and opened to the public on October 18, 1973. The museum is dedicated to everything related to the periods of discovery, conquest and colonization of the island and its relationship with the rest of the American continent.

Casa Reales Museo model of Columbus ship
Casa Reales Museo model of Columbus ship

This powerful building has many beautiful architectural styles. The huge ground floor windows keep the buildings fresh by letting the cool breezes flow through its luxurious stone and coral walls.

Casa Reales Museo one of the courtrooms
Casa Reales Museo one of the courtrooms.

There is a replica of a colonial courtroom and many exhibits in the museum including the coat of arms of Spain.

Underneath the stone staircase is a large globe of the world with a horse on his hind lags ready to leap. Here is written in Latin: Non sufficit orbis (The world is not large enough).

Casa Reales Museo suit of armor at the entrance
Casa Reales Museo suit of armor at the entrance.

The museum also houses Trujillo’s weapons collection.

Casa Reales Museo weapons collection
Casa Reales Museo weapons collection.

The beautiful interior courtyards are perfect for taking a breath of fresh air. The statue of Fray Alonso de Zuazohold looms in thge center of one of the pation and also you just might spot a peacock or two strutting around the large beautiful interior patio.

Casa Reales Museo peacock
Casa Reales Museo peacock.

Location, Hours and Cost

: Calle las Damas and the beginning of Las Mercedes The Plaza del Reloj Sol is in front and it is connected to Plaza España. Phone: 809-682-4202.

Entrance to the museum (2016) RD$20 for adults and RD$20 for children.

Hours: 9:00-5:00 – Closed on Mondays

Casa de los Dávila / Capilla de los Remedios

Casa de los Dávila

and the

Capilla de los Remedios

/ House of Dávila and The Chapel of Remedies was one of the most modern and complete houses of its time. It was built Siglo XVI / The 16th century.

Casa de los Dávila on Calle las Damas
Casa de los Dávila on Calle las Damas

Casa de los Dávila

was the residence of don Francisco Dávila, the richest families on the island at this time. It was one of the most modern and complete houses of its time. The house has a bunker built into the wall and was connected to Fuerte El Invencible. The house was later integrated into the Casa de Ovando/ House of Ovando where the Hotel Nicolás de Ovando is now.

Casa de los Dávila
Casa de los Dávila

The Casa de los Dávila is one of the few homes in the city to have its own private chapel,

Capilla de los Remedios

. The chapel was built to house the remains of his family. This is where the body of Francisco Dávila is interred.

Capilla de los Remedios
Capilla de los Remedios

The chapels architectural style is Mudejar, created by the Muslims. The interior structure holds a small temple in the shape of a cross with a vaulted brick ceiling. The outside of the chapel has a bell tower made of brick that has a spectacular view of the port. At the time it was built the tower also displayed he families’ coat of arms/ escudo de armas which was destroyed by Boyers who led the invading Haitian troupes in 1830.

Capilla de los Dávilas as seen from Plaza Reloj de Sol
Capilla de los Dávilas as seen from Plaza Reloj de Sol

This small but important chapel was damaged many times throughout history and has always been rebuilt. In 1853 the chapel was damaged by a lightning strike then in 1930 by a hurricane.

The chapel fell into ruins by 1872 and stayed this way until three friends, known as The Three Johns/ Los tres Juanes, decided that this building could be saved. They were Don Juan Alejandro Acosta, DonJuan F. Travieso, both heroes of Independence, and Don Juan Pumarol. These three men got permission from the vicar of the Archdiocese to do the restoration. Finally, March 1884, the work on the little chapel completed and it was blessed.

The view of the Chapel from below.
The view of the Chapel from below.

The chapel has been repaired as needed and updated with air conditioning and other niceties. When you find the doors open be sure to visit, take a seat on one of the wooden benches, and relax for a few minutes. It is used for concerts and exhibitions.

Casa de los Dávilas on Calle las Damas
Casa de los Dávilas on Calle las Damas The Guardia del Presidente are exercising in the Plaza

Directions

: The Casa de los Dávila is located on Calle Las Damas # 57. The Capilla de los Remedios is on one side of the house and the Hostal Nicolas de Ovando on the other.

Walk east on Calle el Conde to Calle Las Damas. Turn left (north) walk about 2 blocks and it is the last building on the right before the Plaza del Sol Reloj / Plaza of the Sun Dial and Plaza España. If you come from Calle Las Mercedes and walk towards the River you will run directly into the chapel.

Casa de los Dávila and Capilla de los Remedios as seen from Calle las Mercedes
Casa de los Dávila and Capilla de los Remedios as seen from Calle las Mercedes