Casa del Tapao is a large two-story stone home that is beautifully restored and conserved. The residence was built in the 14th century between 1554 and 1556. Duque de Rivera, with help from the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, helped build this home. The shield of the Duque is located atop the stone portal of the main entrance.
Casa del Tapao now is part of La Quinta Billini located a little further down Calle Padre Billini. The building is used for cultural events, art exhibitions and can be rented for special activities and parties.
Casa del Tapao Legends
Casa del Tapao is shrouded in legend and mystery. No one is sure exactly what went on behind the walls of this home. We can only speculate.
It is said that the condemned prisoners arriving here from Mexico stayed in this house and always left covering their faces so they could not be identified.
El Hombre del Tapado
Another legend of the Casa del Tapao says that the gentleman living here was deformed and had a disfigured face, maybe from some disease such as leprosy. He only left the house at night and always had his face covered. Some legends state that this man was the twin brother of the King of Spain and he was hidden here so as not to disgrace the family.
The story says that the lone resident was a strange man who always kept his face covered so he could not be recognized. The people did not know much about this mysterious man so they called him “El Hombre del Tapado”
All these legends have one thing in common; someone stayed here who was secretive and stayed covered. None know for sure now why the inhabitants of this house always seemed to remain undercover. This is another mystery of the history of the Colony of Santo Domingo that will never be answered.
This beautifully preserved home is located on the corners of Calle 19 de Marzo and Padre Billini just 2 blocks from Calle el Conde. (The streets originally were named Calle del Tapao and Calle del Convento.)
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. Francisco was 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 Tostado house is famous for its double window Elizabethan Gothic facade with Moorish influences, one of the most unique windows in all the world.
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
There are a few different versions of tragic love stories that are said to have occurred in this famous house. Here are two of them.
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
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.
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?
Hours: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday thru Saturday. Closed Sundays
Cost: $100 pesos for general public (2008).
The corner of Calle Padre Billini and Arzobispo Meriño just beyond the Cathedral of Santo Domingo.
La Casa del Sacramento el Sede del Arzobispado de Santo Domingo / The House of Sacrament the Seat of the Archbishop of Santo Domingo
The beautiful and historical Casa del Sacramento with the distinctive two towers was built in the 16th century by Diego Caballero, Secretary of the Real Audience. It is now the home offices of The Archbishop of Santo Domingo.
The House of Sacrament boasts a beautiful interior patio surrounded by large colonial pillars rising to both floors. It was originally two houses but in 1931 in was blended into one large building. The towers were added in the 16th century.
Casa del Sacramento has been home to many influential residents of Santo Domingo including the Garay family and later Alonzo de Fuenmayor, the first Archbishop of the Cathedral of Santo Domingo.
The building was the location of the living quarters of general Bernard Phillipe Alejo Carré and The Satisimo Sacrament during the Haitian occupation of the island. It became an annex of the University of Santo Domingo in 1905 and also housed the Servicio Militar Obligatori / Obligatory Military Service during Trujillo’s reign.
An interesting legend surrounding the house.
When the family of Don Luis Garay was occupants of this house they had a very traumatic experience. The families pet orangutan was playing with one of the Garays sons. The orangutan took the child to the roof of the house. It looked like the monkey was going to throw the boy from the roof. His mother was frantic and could do nothing to save her son who she thought was in peril so she got the Archbishop to come and help. The mother offered her home to the Archbishop in exchange for the life of the son. Finally the son was returned to his bed without incident.
The family kept their word and Luis Garays wife gave their home to the Arzobispado de Santo Domingo. This is the legend about how this beautiful historical building came into the hands of the church.
Calle Isabel la Católica #55 and the corner of Calle Pellerano Alfau. It is located across from the First Cathedral in the Americas.
All You Want To Know About The Oldest City In The Americas