Category Archives: Parks and Plazas

Plaza María de Toledo And History

Plaza María de Toledo

The Plaza María de Toledo is a nice tranquil spot to sit and relax. The Plaza honors the first American Viceroy / Virreina, Doña María de Toledo. A cultural woman who helped make life for the new colony of Santo Domingo a little more proper.

The Plaza and Fountain in the Reflecting Pool with the statue of Maria de Toledo looking on.
The Plaza and Fountain in the Reflecting Pool with the statue of Maria de Toledo looking on.

The Plaza | Location | María de Toledo History

The Plaza and Fountain in the Reflecting Pool
The Plaza and Fountain in the Reflecting Pool

The Plaza

The brick tiled plaza sits between Calle Las Damas and Isabel la Católica. Benches line the courtyard, making it an ideal place for sitting and relaxing. The newly repaired fountain cascades water into a small reflecting pool. The sculpture of María de Toledo sits in the square in front of the fountain. Originally the statue was located on the side lawn of the Alcazar de Colón in Plaza Espana. They moved the statue to Plaza Maria de Toledo when the plaza was renovated in 2017.

The statue of María de Toledo now sits in the plaza named after the Virreina, Doña María de Toledo
The statue of María de Toledo now sits in the plaza named after the Virreina, Doña María de Toledo

There were 2 homes on the original piece of land. All that remains are the 3 stone arches at the entrance along Las Damas and the 2 arches above the pool. It was originally the residence of the group la Compañía de Jesús until they were expelled from the country.

The home next to the Convento de los Jesuitas (now the Panteón Nacional) that sat where the Plaza María de Toledo is now located. Picture from 1920’s
The home next to the Convento de los Jesuitas (now the Panteón Nacional) that sat where the Plaza María de Toledo is now located. Picture from 1920’s

Every Sunday there is a small Antique Market held in the plaza. Vendors sell their wares including antiques, Taino artifacts, brass pieces, jewelry and other interesting trinkets.

Sunday Antique Market in Plaza María de Toledo.
Sunday Antique Market in Plaza María de Toledo.

Location

Walking up (north) Isabel la Católica from the eastern side of the Conde about 1 block. It is the first open space on the right across from Calle Gregorio Luperon. Walking up Calle las Damas from the Conde, it is the first plaza on the left in front of Governor Nicolás Ovando’s Residence, now a hotel. It is next to the Panteón Nacional.

The red brick Plaza María de Toldeo is a nice place for sitting and relaxing
The red brick Plaza María de Toldeo is a nice place for sitting and relaxing

María de Toledo (born 1490 in Spain – Died May 11, 1549 (aged 58–59) in Santo Domingo

María de Toledo was the wife of the son of Christopher Columbus / Cristóbal Colón, Diego de Colón, II Admiral and II Viceroy of the Indies / II Almirante y II Virrey de Indias. She was the granddaughter of García Álvarez de Toledo, 1st Duke of Alba and the niece of King Ferdinand of Spain.

María was the first person of noble race to arrive on the Spanish island in 1509. She brought class to the colony. Clothes and other fancy items were forbidden in the colony until she arrived. She got special permission from the crown for herself and others to use and wear these items, becoming the central person of the aristocratic society. She also held the title of Viceroy / Virreina and was more powerful and influential than her husband Díego Colon.

María de Toledo was a strong defender of the original inhabitants of the island, the Taino Indians, against the mistreatment of the Spanish. She also fought for the rights of her children after the death of her husband. She was one of the most important female figures in the original colony of 16th century Hispaniola.

The unmarked statue of María de Toldeo used to be on the grassy slope on the side of the Alcázar de Colón. The Columbus Palace was built to be the home of Maria de Toledo and her husband Diego de Colón. She loved being a hostess, receiving guests and entertaining in her royal home.

The statue of María de Toledo sitting in its original location on the side of the Alcazar de Colón, her home in the original colony of Santo Domingo.
The statue of María de Toledo sitting in its original location on the side of the Alcazar de Colón, her home in the original colony of Santo Domingo.

NOTE – I have researched and found varying histories. Some report that María had 7 children and some say 8 children. I cannot find the cause of death or where she was buried when she died in Santo Domingo. If I find this information, I will add it.

More about the history of the Jesuits in Dominican Republic.

More about the history of María de Toledo

Parque Duarte

Parque Duarte

Parque Duarte is a beautiful plaza or park named after Juan Pablo Duarte, a Founding Father of the Dominican Republic. They erected a beautiful bronze statue in the center in honor of this Dominican hero.

The bronze statue of Juan Pablo Duarte and the Dominican Flag in the center of Parque Duarte in the Colonial City of Santo Domingo.
The bronze statue of Juan Pablo Duarte and the Dominican Flag in the center of Parque Duarte in the Colonial City of Santo Domingo.

Duarte Park | Plaza and Sculpture | Duarte Park – History & Legends | Location

Duarte Park

Parque Duarte is a neighborhood park that is a nice place to sit and wile away an afternoon. Maybe you could even join in a game of dominos. There are benches where you can sit in the shade under a tree, relax and watch the world pass by. It is calm and peaceful during the day.

A relaxing day sitting in the shade with the falling flowers in Parque Duarte
A relaxing day sitting in the shade with the falling flowers in Parque Duarte

When darkness comes this place is overrun by young people partying, drinking and listening to music. There is a Colmado and a few small bars surrounding this park where you can get a cold beer, a mixed drink or whatever type of liquid refreshment you desire. Different food vendors pass through where you can get ice cream, a plate of chicharrones (pork cracklings) and other local type snacks. I call this park “the alternative lifestyle park” as it has a variety of visitors in the evenings. Artists and musicians, bohemian, gay and straight, young and old. A very interesting place to observe and enjoy partying with a variety of humans.

Plaza and Sculpture

Honoring Juan Pablo Duarte on Día de Duarte with wreaths that were placed in his honor.
Honoring Juan Pablo Duarte on Día de Duarte with wreaths that were placed in his honor.

Plaza Duarte was named on November 20, 1891 by the Ayuntamiento of Santo Domingo.

They inaugurated the park and the statue of Duarte in the center of Parque Duarte on July 16, 1930 when Rafael Estrella Ureña was president of the Dominican Republic. Italian sculptor and painter Arturo Tomagnini created the hollow cast polished bronze statue between 1928 – 29 in Italy.

The Diosa de la Victoria / Goddess of Victory sits below the image of Duarte
The Diosa de la Victoria / Goddess of Victory sits below the image of Duarte

The sculptor depicts Juan Pablo Duarte standing with his right hand on his chest at his heart. In his left hand he holds the draft of the constitution. He stands proudly atop the granite and concrete pedestal. Sitting below him is the Diosa de la Victoria / Goddess of Victory. (Diosa de la Victoria (Nike), in Greek Mythology, is the goddess of victory both in war and in peaceful competition.)

Parque Duarte is in front of the Iglesia y Convento de los Dominicos.
Parque Duarte is in front of the Iglesia y Convento de los Dominicos.

Duarte Park – History & Legends

Here are a few legends and historical items that I have found to be very interesting.

*This square in it’s long history has also been known as Plaza Anacaona, Plaza Santo Domingo and Plaza del Exconvento Dominico / Plaza of the Ex-Convict Dominico, Plaza del Convento de los Dominicos.

*Haitian separatists fought for independence at this site in 1843.

*It was the site of bullfights during the celebrations of the Virgen del Rosario.

The beautiful Edificio Elmúdesi is one of the buildings that surround Parque Duarte
The beautiful Edificio Elmúdesi is one of the buildings that surround Parque Duarte

*Edificio Elmúdesi, built by Benigno Trueba in 1936, is one of the historical buildings that surround Parque Duarte. The building was the home and clinic of Doctor Antonio Elmúdesi. The Elmúdesi building is part of the architectural heritage of the Dominican Republic.

*In the 19th century, this was the place chosen by the Trinitaria to meet and begin a conspiracy against the Haitian occupation that took place between 1822 and 1844.

People relaxing under the trees of Parque Duarte. Some are enjoying a cold beer and others are just enjoying the ambiance
People relaxing under the trees of Parque Duarte. Some are enjoying a cold beer and others are just enjoying the ambiance.

*Legend says that the queen of Jaragua, Taino Anacaona, was hanged here but it has never been proven.

*Sir Francis Drake and his followers hung to death the Dominican Fathers Juan de Caravia and Juan de Illanes in 1586.

Location

Panoramic view of Parque Duarte from Calle Duarte and Padre Billini.
Panoramic view of Parque Duarte from Calle Duarte and Padre Billini.

Calle Padre Billini, on the corners of Duarte y Hostos, in the center of the Colonial Zone. The park faces the Iglesia y Convento de Los Dominicos and the Capilla de la Tercera Orden Dominica, where the first university of the New World was founded in 1538.

Walking – From the Conde turn south onto Padre Billini or Duarte. Walk in the direction of the sea. It is about 2 blocks from Calle el Conde.

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 and Beach

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 and there are no facilities.

At the so-called beach 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 at Dominican Republic’s South East coast 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.