Category Archives: Parks and Plazas

Faro San Souci Punta Torrecilla

Lighthouse / Faro San Souci at Punta Torrecilla

The Faro San Souci at Punta Torrecilla is located near the entrance to the port of Santo Domingo at Rio Ozama on the South Coast of Dominican Republic. The yellow and black lighthouse stands at the tip of the park Punta Torrecilla on the coral cliffs of the Caribbean Sea. The lighthouse can be seen from many points around the city.

The Faro San Souci at Punta Torrecilla in Santo Domingo sits on the coral cliffs of the Caribbean Sea
The Faro San Souci at Punta Torrecilla in Santo Domingo sits on the coral cliffs of the Caribbean Sea

The Faro

The original lighthouse in this location was built around 1853. It was deactivated and demolished in 1967. The present Black and Yellow Faro located on the point was built in 1986. It is very similar in appearance to the Survivors Lighthouse on the North Coast in Puerta Plata.

The yellow and black lighthouse on the point at Punta Torrecilla
The yellow and black lighthouse on the point at Punta Torrecilla

The pyramid-like concrete tower is 125 feet tall. The entire height, including the light, is 135 feet tall. Faro Sans Souci sends out a blinking white light beacon with a view range of 13 nautical miles. The lighthouse is used as a navigational aid for entrance into the Port of Santo Domingo. The Faro San Souci sits on a terrain about 7 meters above sea level.

Fishermen lining the cliffs at the Punta Torrecilla
Fishermen lining the cliffs at the Punta Torrecilla

Punta Torrecilla Park

From the vantage point of the park at Punta Torrecilla, there is a beautiful view of the city of Santo Domingo and Avenida George Washington also known as the Malecon. There are usually people fishing off the coral cliffs. Sit, relax and watch the many ships bringing and leaving with their loads. Many Cruise Ships and the Ferry from Puerto Rico come and go from the Puerto Santo Domingo. The ports include Puerto San Souci and Puerto Don Diego.

Broken walkways surrounding the park at the Faro San Souci at Punta Torrecilla
Broken walkways surrounding the park at the Faro San Souci at Punta Torrecilla

The park was at one time had beautiful walkways along the coral cliffs where the waves of the turquoise Caribbean Sea broke. Now the paths are broken and most lay in rubble. The park is usually littered with trash from people picnicking under the palm trees. Local youths like to swim off the cliffs which can be dangerous. Swimming is prohibited here during popular Dominican holidays because of the hazards. It is visited by police and military off and on, trying to keep the area safe. It is OK to visit during the daylight but I would highly advise against visiting after dark. It is a lonely and quiet place where derelicts and bad humans frequent.

The view of the Faro rising above the trees as seen from Avenida España coming from the Airport.
The view of the Faro rising above the trees as seen from Avenida España coming from the Airport.

Location

The Park of Punta Torrecilla, where the Faro sits, is located in Los Mameyes, Santo Domingo Este along Avenida España on the property of the Naval Base 27 de Febrero. Academia Naval / Naval Academy is located across the street and the Club De Oficiales De La Marina De Guerra / Navy Officers Club is next door. Coming into Santo Domingo from the airport the park sits on the left before you enter the city.

The view of the mouth of Rio Ozama at the Caribbean Sea with the Faro San Souci in the distance. Picture is taken from Playita Montecino at the Malecon in Colonial Zone.
The view of the mouth of Rio Ozama at the Caribbean Sea with the Faro San Souci in the distance. Picture is taken from Playita Montecino at the Malecon in Colonial Zone.

Plazoleta Padre Billini

Plazoleta Padre Billini

Beautiful and intimate Plazoleta / Small Plaza Padre Billini, named after and dedicated to Padre Billini who contributed many important things to the Dominican Republic. Here his statue, made by French sculptor Ernest Gilbert, stands proudly.

The statue of Padre Francisco Xavier Billini stands in the center of the plaza named after him, Plazoleta Padre Billini
The statue of Padre Francisco Xavier Billini stands in the center of the plaza named after him, Plazoleta Padre Billini

Padre Francisco Xavier Billini (December 1, 1837 – March 9, 1896), known as the protector of the poor man. He was also a great Philanthropist. Billini founded the National Lottery in 1882 to help pay for the poorest patients of the Hospital de la Beneficencia. This was the first charity hospital in the Dominican Republic, later known as Hospital San Andrés. We now know the hospital as Hospital Docente Padre Billini located on Calle Santomé in the Colonial Zone.

The statue of Padre Billini, The protector of the people, stands in the center of the Plaza
The statue of Padre Billini, The protector of the people, stands in the center of the Plaza

The Legend of La Casa de Garay

Where this Plazoleta Padre Billini is now, there once was a large beautiful house, The Casa de Garay. This private home was built around 1520. It was torn down because of a disagreement between neighbors.

Located on Calle Arzobispo Meriño on the left is La Bricola Restaurant and the Plaza Padre Billini is where the beautiful Casa de Garay once stood
Located on Calle Arzobispo Meriño on the left is La Bricola Restaurant and the Plaza Padre Billini is where the beautiful Casa de Garay once stood

A widow, who lived in her home where La Bricola Restaurant is located (across the street from the Plaza), saw a sight from her window. A slave from the Casa de Garay decided to milk their masters’ cow in the middle of the street. The elderly lady complained. The owners of the House of Garay made a nasty comment about this. The widows’ nephew heard about the comment and came to his elderly aunts’ defense. He wanted to defend the family name of Franco Medina.

The nephew wanted the owner of the slave to apologize. They even offered to purchase the slave so they could punish him and end the dispute. The owner refused. It was against the law to speak badly or defame someone’s character. It was a very serious offense (and still is in the Dominican Republic). A long court battle entailed because they questioned the persons’ honor. The elderly woman won the lawsuit.

In this time in history, many lawsuits were settled by giving the losers home to the winner of a suit. The owner of the lost home said angrily (general translation) “It’s easy for anyone to get rich!” The Franco Medina family, who won the property, announced that the house will not be lived in by me or anyone. They destroyed the home because they did not want the owner to think the Medina family fought and won just to take the home.

The empty lot was turned into a plaza. This plaza has had many different names over time, including Plaza de las Franco, Plaza de las Lebrón and Plaza de las Mañón. Finally, Damián Báez (the son of Presidente Buenaventura Báez), purchased the property to make a plaza dedicated to Padre Billini.

Plaza Padre Billini Now

Plazolita Padre Billini has large shade trees where one can sit and enjoy a rest from the Dominican sun
Plazolita Padre Billini has large shade trees where one can sit and enjoy a rest from the Dominican sun

The small plaza has benches under large shade trees where you can sit and enjoy the breeze. It is now half occupied by some of the restaurants that line the site. These restaurants are nice but expensive places. You can sit outside in the Plaza or inside the enclosed restaurants or private patios to have a meal and a drink.

The Plazoleta Padre Billini is a favorite spot to take wedding pictures.
The Plazoleta Padre Billini is a favorite spot to take wedding pictures.

They hold many special events in the Plaza from meetings with the President to small intimate weddings. It is a great place to take wedding pictures too.

Plazoleta Padre Billini is located on Calle Arzobispo Meriño and Padre Billini where the beautiful Casa de Garay once stood
Plazoleta Padre Billini is located on Calle Arzobispo Meriño and Padre Billini where the beautiful Casa de Garay once stood

Location:

Walking from Calle el Conde turn on Arzobispo Meriño south toward the sea. Walk about a block and a half and small plaza, Plazoleta Padre Billini, is on the left side before you get to Calle Padre Billini.

Plaza Bartolomé de las Casas

Plaza Bartolomé de las Casas

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.

Plaza Bartolomé de las Casas, Colonial Zone, Dominican Republic.
Plaza Bartolomé de las Casas located in the Colonial Zone.

The Statue of Las Casas | The Shield of Santo Domingo / Escudo de la Ciudad de Santo Domingo

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.

Plaza Bartolomé de las Casas in the Zona Colonial is surrounded by a gated fence.
Plaza Bartolomé de las Casas in the Zona Colonial is surrounded by a gated fence.

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. 

Plaza Bartolome de las Casas Feria Artesanal
Plaza Bartolome de las Casas Feria Artesanal

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.

Plaza Bartolomé de las Casas is a beautiful small plaza.
Plaza Bartolomé de las Casas is a beautiful small plaza.

The Statue of Las Casas

The grand modern statue of Fray Bartolomé Las Casas in the center of the park was created by Juan de Vaquero.

The statue of Bartolomé de las Casas located in the Plaza in the Colonial Zone.
The statue of Bartolomé de las Casas located in the Plaza.

Read the history of Fray Bartolomé Las Casas.

The Shield of Santo Domingo / Escudo de la Ciudad de Santo Domingo

The Coat of Arms of the City of Santo Domingo / Escudo de Armas de la Ciudad de Santo Domingo in Plaza Bartolomé Las Casa
The Coat of Arms of the City of Santo Domingo / Escudo de Armas de la Ciudad de Santo Domingo in Plaza Bartolomé Las Casa

Hidden inside the walls of the Plaza Bartolomé Las Casa is The Coat of Arms of the City of Santo Domingo / Escudo de Armas de la Ciudad de Santo Domingo. This small shield is an important symbol of pride for the city. You can see it on the outside wall along Calle Padre Billini near the gate that faces Parque Duarte. Hidden behind some tree branches.

Some information about the Escudo de Armas de la Ciudad de Santo Domingo.

Location:

Walking from Calle el Conde turn onto Hostos going south toward the sea. Past Parque Duarte to Padre Billini on the left behind a gated wall.