Category Archives: Museums/Museos

Casa Reales and Museo

Las Casas Reales/ The Royal Houses

The Museo / Museum

Location, Hours and Cost

The fusion of three different colonial houses come together to form the Casa Reales. It is home to a very informative museum and collection of weapons once owned by the Dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina.

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

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

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.

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

The Museum

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

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.

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.

The museum also houses Trujillo’s 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.

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

Colegio de Gorjón

Colegio de Gorjón, home of Centro Cultural de España

Colegio de Gorjón/ College or School of Gorjón was a vision of rich landowner and sugar tycoon Hernando de Gorjón. The building was later restored and now is the home of Centro Cultural de España/ Cultural Center of Spain.

The College of Gorjón home of Central Cultural de España.

Hernando de Gorjón

Hernando de Gorjón came to the island in 1502 on the same expedition that brought Fray Governor Nicholas de Ovando and the Licenciado/ Lawyer Bartolomé de las Casas. Since he did not have any heirs Gorjón decided to build a college for the study of sciences. Sadly, he never got to see his dream completed. The building was finished in 1550, after his death.

University of Santiago De La Paz

In 1583 it was named part of the University of Santiago De La Paz. The university was finally confirmed by Cédula Real in 1741 when Fernando VI gave it recognition as the Universidad de Santo Domingo.

An art display on the front of the Centro Cultural de España.

Centro Cultural de España/ Cultural Center of Spain

The Colegio de Gorjón was restored beautifully in the 1970’s by the Comisión de Monumentos de Santo Domingo/ Monument Commission. At this time it was decided to make the building return to its original use and become a center for learning and culture. In 1990 the location was the Centro Cultural Hispánico. Since 1998 to present day The Colegio de Gorjón is the home of the Centro Cultural de España/ Cultural Center of Spain (CCEDS http://www.ccesd.org). It is an institution integrated into the worldwide network of cultural centers of the Spanish Agency of Cooperation the International, AECI.

Architect

Many architectural interests of great historic value can be seen throughout the Colegio de Gorjón starting with the main entrance and windows.

The outside of the building can be very deceiving as it looks so plain and simple. Once you enter the front doors the interior is quite large.

Entering the building there is a stone vestibule that represents the Elizabethan period in the New World. It is decorated with several restored shields of arms that were destroyed during the Haitian invasion.

Patio of the Centro Cultural de España.

The main room was originally a chapel. Today it is the exhibition hall named in honor of painter and sculptor Antonio Prats Ventós. The Spanish patio is now the place where many outdoor concerts and exhibitions are held. The patio is surrounded by splendid columns and holds about 200 people.

Many of the old classrooms from the original school are now exhibition halls including Sala Maria Ugarte and the Sala Fotográfica. On the second floor is a library, smaller rooms and offices.

Location:

Calle Arz. Meriño between Calle Jose Gabriel Garcia and Arz. Portes.

Casa del Tostado

Casa del Tostado / House of Tostado

About the Casa del TostadoCasa del Tostado LegendsEl Museo de la Familia Dominicano / The Museum of the Dominican Family

The Casa Francisco de Tostado

home was built in the 15th century. This is one of the earliest constructions on the island. This historical Tostado came to the island with Nicholas de Ovando in 1502 making him one of the earliest settlers on the island. He was a writer and father of famous writer Francisco Tostado de la Peña the first person born on the island to become a university professor. He was killed by cannon fire of Pirate Francis Drake in 1586.

The famous, one of a kind window of Casa del Tostado.
The famous, one of a kind window of Casa del Tostado.

The Tostado house is famous for its double window Elizabethan Gothic facade with Moorish influences, one of the most unique windows in all the world.

The interior patio of Casa del Tostado
The interior patio of Casa del Tostado

This historical home ran all the way down to the sea covering an entire city block. The construction of the house is said to be one of a kind.

Inside the rooms are large and spacious and quite lavish. Inside the house there were large gardens and parks. There are exquisite archways located throughout the house. On the top floor tower there is a great view of the sea. The patio is lovely and it is said at one time there was even an orchard inside the walls.

Casa de Tostado has been home to many famous inhabitants of the island. First the Tostado family, including Francisco Rodríguez Franco. At one time it was Archbishop’s Palace. It is now the home of El Museo de la Familia Dominicano / The Museum of the Dominican Family.

Casa del Tostado Legends

Casa del Tostado as seen from Plaza Bartolome de las Casas in the early morning.
Casa del Tostado as seen from Plaza Bartolome de las Casas in the early morning.

One romantic and tragic legend is from the nineteenth century. The father of a beautiful girl was blamed for the tragic death of his daughter.

His daughter had a boyfriend who was a part of the invading army marching in the street below her window. When she saw him marching by she ran to the street to greet her man. Her father went into a rage. He was so angry that he killed his daughters’ boyfriend with his sword.

The distraught girl ran to her lover who was lying on the ground. She held him as he breathed his last breath. Desperate and in pain she ran to the well in the yard and dived in. Falling to the bottom and ending her life.

Another version of the story told to me was that the wealthy owner of the home had many African saves. The daughter fell in love with one of these handsome slaves.

The lovers were secretly meeting on the patio while the father was out. When the father returned to the home unexpectedly the slave went down into the well to hide. He was holding onto the edge of the well waiting for the father to leave. After some time the daughter got her father to leave the patio area.

Finally, when her father left the house, the daughter returned to the patio to see the man she secretly loved and let him know that her father was gone again. She called for him but could not find him anywhere. As a last resort she looked into the well.

It seems that her lover could no longer hold onto the side of the well while waiting for the father to leave the patio. He lost his grip and fell into the well drowning in the water below.

The daughter was so distraught. She went to the top of the tower and threw herself off. She died on the street below.

El Museo de la Familia Dominicano / The Museum of the Dominican Family

Museo de la Familia Dominicano era dress on the Night of Museums.

The Dominican Republic took over the Tostado House in 1970. The government restored the building and it was opened to the public on August 15, 1973. It was made into a historical monument and now is the home of El Museo de la Familia Dominicano / The Museum of the Dominican Family.

This museum holds many historical documents of the Dominican national heritage showcasing the culture and customs of the Dominican people.

There is an impressive collection of 19th-and 20th-century Victorian wicker and mahogany furniture. Included in the collection are many impressive paintings, drawings, photographs, books and objects of personal use. Some of the works of art in the collection include some of the more important artists of the time.

Museo de la Familia Dominicano era dress on the Night of Museums.

Inside the home one of the original courtyards still exist. It is a beautiful green tranquil spot where you can sit and reflect. In the center of the patio sits an old well. Make sure to go up the stairs to the tower. You will have a spectacular view of the Colonial Zone.

Could these be the same well and tower that the legends spoke of?

Casa del Tostado corner of Padre Billini and Merino in the Colonial Zone.

Hours: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday thru Saturday. Closed Sundays
Cost: $100 pesos for general public.
Contact: 809-689-5000

Casa del Tostado corner of Calle Padre Billini and Arzobispo Meriño

Location

The corner of Calle Padre Billini and Arzobispo Meriño just beyond the Cathedral of Santo Domingo.