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Parque Independencia, Puerta del Conde and Alter de la Patria

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The park, its exterior and interior, is a must visit when you are exploring the oldest city in the Americas.

The guarded gate Door of the Count/ Puerta del Conde or Door of February 27/ Puerta de 27 de Febrero is the entrance to the old walled city of Santo Domingo now known as Colonial Zone / Zona Colonial. Behind this wall with its famous gate lies Independence Park/ Parque Independencia and the Altar of the Nation/ Altar de la Patria home of the mausoleum for the founding fathers of Dominican Republic/ República Dominicana, Francisco del Rosario Sánchez, Juan Pablo Duarte and Ramón Matías Mella.

Today the walls surrounding Independence Park serve as a place for temporary exhibitions placed by the Ministry of Culture. There are always interesting exhibits that display a variety of literary, artistic and/ or historical events.

Directions: Parque Independencia, Palo Hincado and Calle el Conde, Colonial Zone, Santo Domingo. The roads surrounding the park are Avenida Independencia, Ave. Bolívar, Palo Hincado, Arzobispo Nouel, Mariano Cesteros. Calle el Conde lines up a direct path to the front gate. Park hours are from 8:30 to 6 daily. See the map (number 1)

The gate Puerta del Conde is named after El Conde de Peñalve/ Count of Peñalva, Bernardo de Meneses y Bracamonte. He was the Captain General of the walled city of Santo Domingo. He saved the city, along with his men, from the British invaders during the Siege of Santo Domingo. Admiral William Penn and General Robert Venables led this battle. The Count ordered the wall to be modified and this work was completed in 1655.

Fort San Genaro/ Bastión de San Genaro, the original name of this fort, was built in 1543. It is typical of the 17th century built Italian style. Its purpose was to defend the city from a sneak attack by land along with its connecting Fuerte la Concepcion. The wall that this gate is built into ran al the way down to the sea and included the Puerta de la Misericordia.

On February 27, 1844 Puerta del Conde became the national symbol of Dominican patriotism when Francisco del Rosario Sanchez raised the first Dominican flag. It was here that the heroes of the country overtook the Haitian government and retook the city for their own thus reclaiming their Independence.

Above this gate at the beginning of the Conde Street reads the Latin inscription  "ìDulce et Decori est pro patria moriî" translated "It is indeed sweet and honorable to die for the fatherland."

On February 27, 1933 Rafael Leonidas Trujillo ordered the name of the gate be changed. He changed the official name was to the Door of February 27/ Puerta de 27 de Febrero. Still the Dominican people still call this symbol or patriotism Puerta el Conde. This gate symbolizes the ideals of freedom of the Dominican Republic.

In 1943 Trujillo ordered the remains of the three founding fathers of the Dominican Republic be moved from the Chapel of the Imortals/ Capilla de los Immortales in the Catedral of Santo Domingo. Juan Pablo Duarte, Francisco del Rosario Sanchez and Ramon Matias Mella had a new resting place.

Altar of the Nation/ Altar de la Patria also known as Tumba de los Padres de la Patria/ Tomb of the Patriarchs of the Country or more simply the National Mausoleum. It was designed by architect Cristian Martinez Villanueva and built in 1976 when the park was restored. The new monument made of white marble looms in the center of the park with the bright shining National Shield/ Escudo Nacional. It is a fitting memorial for the heroes and Founding Fathers of the Dominican Republic.

Within this marble structure Juan Pablo Duarte, Francisco del Rosario Sanchez, and Ramon Matias Mella bodies are interred. A solid marble slab covers each of the 3 founding fathers' tombs. The large mesmerizing statues of these patriots, carved by Italian sculptor Nicholas Arrighini, stand proud at the head of their tombs.

In the center of the marble shrine burns the eternal flame that is kept lit in memory of the patriots. There are usually flowers and wreaths lovingly placed around the statues to honor the national heroes. The mausoleum is open from 8:30 to 6 daily.

Outside of the park on the left side is a small fenced off area called Plaza Patriótica a los Caídos de la Revolución de Abril de 1965. Un homenaje del pueblo dominicano a los Héroes y Mártires de la guerra patria De 1965/ Fallen Patriot Square of the Revolution April 1965.  A tribute to the Dominican people and the heroes and martyrs of the Patriotic War of 1965.

Independence Park/ Parque Independencia was converted to a park in 1912 when Architect Antonin Nechodoma did a redesign. This design later made way for the Altar de la Patria. The road that ran through the center of the park was closed and benches added.

As you enter the gate flanked by two uniformed guards you will really be leaving the original walled city of Santo Domingo. You are now outside the original protection that existed in the colonial days.

As with many of these important military installations they used moats for protection. Here you can see a triangular shaped moat/ foso running towards what is now San Carlos. These moats were used to protect the west along with several guard booths/ garitas. There are stairs where you can descend into the moat and shaded tunnels that are below the parks walk ways.

Since this gate was the main way in and out of the city of Santo Domingo the walls of defense here were very important for protection from any attacks coming by land including roving bands of marauders and those sneaky pirates.

If you walk straight ahead you will you will see the Altar of the Patriots with its glowing shield atop the tall entrance. It is surrounded by water making it small island at the back of the park. There are 4 walkway bridges leading to the centrally located marble monument.

Make sure you pay attention or you could trip over a raised bronze sculpture in the center of the walkway. This is a 32 point star compass. From here is measured all points of the country. Here marks kilometer 0/ kilómetro cero.

To the left, across a moat there are 2 monuments.

Closest to the wall is a bust of Pedro Alejandrino Piña. He was a writer and one of the leaders of The Trinitarian/ La Trinitaria for the patriotism who fought for the freedom of the Dominican people.

There is also a statue of a beautiful woman looking so calm and gentle and a little forlorn. Holding this distinguished position is Dona Manuela Diez de Duarte, the mother of the Founding Father Juan Pablo Duarte. Manuela was born in Santa Cruz del Seybo June 27, 1786. She married Juan Jose Duarte in 1800 probably in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. They had eight children: Vicente Celestino, Juan Pablo, Filomena, Rosa, María Francisca, Manuel, Ana María y Sandalia. She died in Caracas on December 31, 1858. She occupies a distinguished position in the select group of Women of the Independence.

Directions: Parque Independencia, Palo Hincado and Calle el Conde, Colonial Zone, Santo Domingo. The roads surrounding  the park are Avenida Independencia, Ave. Bolívar, Palo Hincado, Arzobispo Nouel, Mariano Cesteros. Calle el Conde lines up a direct path to the front gate. Park hours are from 8:30 to 6 daily. See the map (number 1)

Puerta del conde exit 1908 looking in
original map of santo domingo with puerta del conde circled
Parque Independencia 1912
Puerta del Conde 2014, Parque Independencia
puerta el conde from inside parque independencia looking out
Altar de la Patria, Parque Independencia
eternal flame at the altar of the founding fathers park independencia
marble statues of Duarte, Sanchez, Mella founding fathers of Dominican Republic
Plaza Patriótica a los Caídos statue monument to the fallen soldiers
Parque Independencia moat surrounding the walled city
kilometro cero, parque independencia. Where all points of Dominican Republic are measured from.
parque independencia foso republica dominicana
parque independencia monuments statues of pina and duartes mother
+click to enlarge - Original map of Santo Domingo published in 1755 with Puerta del Conde circled. More old maps of Santo Domingo.
+click to enlarge - (top) Puerta del Conde 1908 view from Calle el Conde (bottom) Parque Independencia 1912
+click to enlarge -Puerta el Conde (top) The new look (2014) from inside (bottom) and from outside the gate (2012)
+click to enlarge - (top) Altar de la Patria (bottom) The Eternal Flame
+click to enlarge - The Founding Fathers
+click to enlarge - Plaza Patriótica
+click to enlarge - The moats outside the wall (top) and (bottom)
+click to enlarge - (top) Punto Cero (bottom) monuments to Piña and Dona Manuela
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