Category Archives: Parks and Plazas

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.

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.