Category Archives: Forts, Fortalezas and Walls

Fuerte and Parque San José

Fuerte y Parque de San José/ Fort and Park San Jose

The Fuerte San José is a beautifully restored fort located in the historic Colonial City. The Parque San Jose is a well-kept park. It is the perfect place to relax. You can watch some young people do some skateboarding or enjoy a game of basketball all under the beautiful shade trees located throughout the park.

Fuerte San José | Parque San José | Location

Fuerte de San José, shooting platform, cannons and watchtowers with the view of the Monument Montecino.
Fuerte de San José, shooting platform, cannons and watchtowers with the view of the Monument Montecino.

The Fuerte San José

was part of a series of bastions built to defend the walled city of Santo Domingo in the 16th century. It was part of the walls that ran along the Caribbean Sea and was an important part of the protection from attacks by sea.

The rectangular shaped fort San José
The rectangular shaped fort San José

Fuerte San José was built near the mouth of the Rio Ozama. The strategic placement of this fort was to watch the comings and goings at the mouth of Rio Ozama. The rectangular shaped fort has an artillery platform that was equipped on 3 sides with cannons. Its two watchtowers (garitas redondas) lookout out points gave a great view of the surrounding sea and land. There was also a lighthouse located in the fort at the entrance to the Rio Ozama that guided ships into the mouth of the river.

Fort San José and the Faro (lighthouse) in the early 1900's.
Fort San José and the Faro (lighthouse) in the early 1900’s.

It is important to remember that the road (The Malecon) in front of the fort did not exist at that time. It was built later by President-Dictator Trujillo. During the time of the colonization of Santo Domingo the water came up to the walls of these seaside forts. Now the walls are surrounded by a road.

Looking to Fort San José from the front.
Looking to Fort San José from the front.

Construction of Fort San Jose began in the mid 1500’s and took over 2 centuries to complete. The walls were built first by president Alonso de Fuenmayor who had some serious money problems and could not complete construction. Finally, at the beginning of the 17th century, the wall of this important fort was finished. Finishing the wall ensured that the seafront was fully protected by connecting the forts San Gil, San Fernando, San Carlos, Santa Catalina to San José. San Gil and San José were the largest of these forts that provided the main defense of the city of Santo Domingo.

View of Fuerte and Parque San José from Calle 19 de Marzo
View of Fuerte and Parque San José from Calle 19 de Marzo

Parque San José

In the 1940’s the deteriorating fort was restored and a beautiful shaded park was created surrounding the bastion. Parque San José is a place where locals like to gather to enjoy a time of rest and to visit friends and family. There are all types of nice places for you to sit and relax and enjoy the view.

Friends, family and pets enjoying the shade in Parque San José.
Friends, family and pets enjoying the shade in Parque San José.
Parque San José. Relax and enjoy the view.
Parque San José. Relax and enjoy the view.
The view of Montecinos from Fuerte San José
The view of Montecinos from Fuerte San José

You can climb the shooting ramp to the elevated platform of the old Fort San José. Here you can have a perfect view of the statue of Fray Anton de Montecino.

Parque San José Ornamental Fountain
Parque San José Ornamental Fountain

Located in the center of the larger part of the park is an Ornamental Fountain that the United States gifted to the Dominican Republic. It was placed here to mark the 100 year centennial anniversary of the country’s independence and the expulsion of the Haitian government from the country.

Fuerte San José and the Japanese Agricultural Immigration Monument and the Skateboard Park
Fuerte San José and the Japanese Agricultural Immigration Monument and the Skateboard Park

Facing Ave. George Washington in the park is the Japanese Agricultural Immigration Monument. You can see this beautiful monument that symbolizes the arrival of Japanese Immigrants to Dominican Republic.

Fort San Jose Basketball court and Skateboard parks.
Fort San Jose Basketball court and Skateboard parks.

There is Montecino Skateboard Park in the Parque San José located on the Malecon near to Calle Arz Meriño. You can see many skate events or watch someone having a good time skating on the ramps and jumps of the park. You can always bring your board and have a go.

Under the street Jose Gabriel Garcia is The Cueva de las Golondrinas next to the Basketball Court
Under the street Jose Gabriel Garcia is The Cueva de las Golondrinas next to the Basketball Court

A Basketball Court is also located in the park on the corners of The Malecon, Calle Arz Meriño and Jose Gabriel Garcia where you can watch the game from above. If you go down to the court level there are small rooms under the street. This is known as The Cueva de las Golondrinas / Cave of Swallows. This is an underground storage place for equipment, street signs and there is a small police station.

Fortaleza and Parque San José along Calle Jose Gabriel Garcia.
Fortaleza and Parque San José along Calle Jose Gabriel Garcia.

Location:

From Calle El Conde walk towards the sea on Calle 19 de Marzo or Meriño to the Malecon. The Fort – Park is located between these 2 streets running along the Malecon in front of the monument Fray Anton de Montesino. Between Avenida George Washington (Paseo Presidente Billini – Malecon) and Jose Gabriel Garcia and Calle 19 de Marzo, Ciudad Colonial.

Puerta de la Misericordia

Puerta de la Misericordia / Door of Mercy

The Puerta de la Misericordia, originally named Puerta de Santiago and Puerta Grande, was the first fortified gate of the city of Santo Domingo. The lone wall was once part of the original wall that ran along the edge of the First city in the Americas, from Puerta del Conde (Parque Independencia) to Fuerte San Gil at the edge of the sea.

Announcing Independence February 27, 1844 | The Statue of General Matías Ramón Mella

Puerta de la Misericordia panoramic view in  2013
Puerta de la Misericordia panoramic view in 2013

The door was designed by the architect Rodrigo de Liendo and constructed in 1543; the bulwarks were added in 1568. In the colonial period the gate served as access to the great plains of the south. The wall was connected to and protected by the military of the Fuerte de San Gil which is located just a few hundred feet south at the shore of the Caribbean.

Puerta de la Misericordia panoramic with the flag of Dominican Republic flying proudly above.
Puerta de la Misericordia panoramic with the flag of Dominican Republic flying proudly above.

The gate received its current name, Puerta Misericordia (Gate of Mercy), in 1842. At this time the survivors of the many earthquakes and storms that occurred on the island gathered here to place the Blessed Sacrament thanking God for his mercy.

Puerta de la Misericordia in the early morning.
Puerta de la Misericordia in the early morning.

Announcing Independence February 27, 1844

The Puerta de la Misericordia is the place that Ramón Matías Mella fired his legendary blunderbuss (a muzzle-loading firearm) of February 27, 1844, to announce the independence of the Dominican Republic from Haiti after taking back the Fortaleza Ozama. At the same time of this shot, Francisco del Rosario Sanchez hoisted the Dominican flag in the Fortaleza.

Puerta de la Misericordia look out tower accessed by the catwalk.
Puerta de la Misericordia look out tower accessed by the catwalk.

Interesting Facts

*Near the door is a courtyard that held a scaffold used to execute those who were condemned to death. At one time there was a small chapel located in the courtyard.

*During the archaeological excavations in 1980, two small fortines (semicircular forts) that once flanked the walls were discovered.

*Located in the small plaza is a statue of Ramón Matías Mella, one of the Founding Fathers of the country.

The statue of Ramón Matías Mella at the Puerta de la Misericordia
The statue of Ramón Matías Mella at the Puerta de la Misericordia

The area surrounding the gate is now a nice little place to visit. You can sit and enjoy the view of the Fort San Gil and the Caribbean Sea located across the Malecon. There is also a Colmado across the street where you can get a little refreshment after walking around the Colonial City. You can notice that there is a catwalk over the top of the wall but it is blocked. Some of the original wall has been cut to make room for the street to pass making accessing the walk difficult.

The view of the Gate of Mercy from Calle Padre Billini with Palo Hincado passing in front.
The view of the Gate of Mercy from Calle Padre Billini with Palo Hincado passing in front.

Directions:

From The Calle el Conde at Parque Independencia walk towards the sea on Calle Palo Hincado the street that separates Ciudad Colonial from Ciudad Nueva. Calle Arzobispo Portes stops at the door.

Plaza Patriótica at the Puerta de la Misericordia honoring General Matías Ramón Mella
Plaza Patriótica at the Puerta de la Misericordia honoring General Matías Ramón Mella

The Statue of General Matías Ramón Mella

Plaza Patriótica / Patriotic Square
General Matías Ramón Mella
February 25, 1816 – June 4, 1864

Located in front of Puerta Misericordia was a bust statue Ramón Matías Mella, one of the Founding Fathers of the Republica Dominicana. It was replaced with a full body statue honoring the anniversary of Mellas birth.

Close up of the statue honoring General Matías Ramón Mella
Close up of the statue honoring General Matías Ramón Mella

The plaque on the statue monument reads:
En homenaje al Padre de la Patria,
General Matías Ramón Mella
Héroe de la Independencia y de la
Restauración de la República Dominicana,
considerado el más grande genio y
estratega militar dominicano
de todos los tiempos.
Político liberal. Independentista eterno.

(English translation)
In homage to the Father of the Nation,
General Matías Ramón Mella
Hero of Independence and the
Restoration of the Dominican Republic,
considered the greatest genius and
Dominican military strategist
of all times.
Liberal politician. Eternal independence.

CPEP
Comision Permanente / Permanent Commission
From Efemerides Patrias

Proyecto Patriótico de Cultura Cívica / Patriotic Civic Culture Project
Foundación Luces y Sombras

Bicentenario de su natalicio / Bicentennial of his birth
25 Febrero 2016

Gobierno Constitucional
Lic. Danilo Medina Sánchez
2012-2016

The bust of General Matías Ramón Mella what was replaced by the statue.
The bust of General Matías Ramón Mella what was replaced by the statue.

The bust of Sanchez that was replaced by the statue read:

Gobierno Constitucional
Dr. Leonel Fernández
2004-2008

Fuerte de la Concepcion

Fuerte de la Concepción

Fuerte de la Concepción was built later in the history of the Colonial City. The fort is located at a very strategic location along the farthest northwestern side of the walled city of Santo Domingo.

The Fuerte de la Concepción and the Puerta del Conde, Parque Independencia.
The Fuerte de la Concepción and the Puerta del Conde, Parque Independencia.

The fort was designed by Juan Bautista Ruggero in 1672 and was built in 1678. It was an important addition to the city of Santo Domingos protection.

The Fuerte de la Concepción look out tower facing the land.
The Fuerte de la Concepción look out tower facing the land.

The strategic location of this important fort was for the initial protection of Santo Domingo and helped to deter many attempted take overs of the capital by land. It was the only fort to look towards the very isolated areas of what is now San Carlos. This was a very strategic location because they were able to view problems coming from inside the island where as most of the forts looked towards the sea or river areas.

The Fuerte de la Concepción catwalk is overgrown with weeds.
The Fuerte de la Concepción catwalk is overgrown with weeds.

Included in the Fuerte de la Concepción, which can still be seen to this day, was a very wide approach ramp for the cannons, the round watch towers and a catwalk around the wall. Gone are the ammunition storage and troop houses. Replacing them are fruit stands and vendors selling their wares.

The Fuerte de la Concepción has not been taken care of very well.
The Fuerte de la Concepción has not been taken care of very well.

Interesting facts:

*The fort area was used as a tram station from 1884 to 1904 when the fort was completely destroyed in a fire.

*The gate located in this wall is named Puerta de Lemba after a slave that was executed here.

*Fuerte de la Concepcion was where the people gathered when a natural disaster struck.

The Fuerte de la Concepción on Calle Palo Hicado as seen from Calle el Conde.
The Fuerte de la Concepción on Calle Palo Hicado as seen from Calle el Conde.

Location

: Calle Palo Hincado and Calle Las Mercedes. It is at the far end of the Colonial Zone across from Calle el Conde and next to Parque Independencia.