La Capilla del Nuestra Señora del Rosario / The Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary
Located on a cliff on the Eastern bank of the Ozama river in Villa Duarte, easily seen from the Plaza de España, the Capilla del Rosario is one of the first chapels of the New World.
Original Settlement of Santo Domingo
This small chapel was constructed on the original land where Bartholomew Columbus founded the Villa of Santo Domingo in 1498. This location was where the first colony was established. The chapel, built in 1544, was constructed of wood and beams gathered from the ships and straw. It was dedicated to La Virgen de la Gente de Mar / The Virgin of Seafarers (Sailors). In 1544 Father Fray Bartolome de Las Casas heard Mass here when he visited Santo Domingo, during his trip to Chiapas, where he had been appointed bishop.
The original settlement on this side of the river was abandoned when the water quality was found to be better on the other side of the Rio Ozama. The settlement was moved across the river to the city that is now Santo Domingo founded by Governor Frey Nicolas de Ovando.
This building was used as a military compound during the Haitian occupation. It was also used for smuggling during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Some of the original Taino Indians that adapted to the Spanish way of life lived in this area.
Much research and Archaeological studies have been done at this location. It was found that the limestone floors of the chapel are dated from the 15th century. Many Spanish potteries and a container for holy oils were also discovered at the site. Also, many skeletons were unearthed that were dated from many different eras.
To visit this historical Chapel you must have written permission from the Tourism Department. The access road is the property of Los Molinos and they will not permit visitors without written permission.
Convento y Iglesia de Santa Clara/ Convent and Church of Santa Clara
The nuns of Santa Clara arrived in the colony in 1552. The land where the Church and convent are built was donated by Alvaro de Castro, the public prosecutor of the Inquisition. Don Rodrigo Pimentel ordered that the convent was to be built in the 16th century, 1550 to 1559. Rodrigo de Bastidas, Diego Colón, Rodrigo de Pimentel y el Arzobispo Alonso de Fuenmayor all put in their ideas for the design.
The first convent of the new world
, was occupied in 1590. When the French occupied the city in 1796 the nuns left for Cuba and returned in 1820. The church, convent and mausoleum of Christopher Columbus/ Cristóbal Colon and his decedents were originally dedicated to Santa Ana. Later it was changed and named after Santa Clara and the nuns/ monjas Clarisas. In 1873, the monastery in ruins, was given to the Sisters of Charity of Cardinal Sancha/ las hermanas de la Caridad del Cardenal Sancha, who restored it and now occupy a college where they operate.
The monastery was created for girls in the city Ozama (Urbe del Ozama) to study and be educated. The founders were Franciscan who wore the brown sackcloth robe tied with a cord and a brown cape. These Franciscan monks are still seen walking through the Colonial city. The sisters now live behind the church on Calle las Damas. The iglesia houses a school where some days you can hear the children gathering in the church singing hymns with the sound coming out into the street like a soft wave.
The building is very plain consisting of a smooth, non-descript outer wall and a very simple entryway. The interior is decorated in Gothic style.
From east Calle el Conde turn south (towards the sea) on Isabel la Católica. Go about 2 blocks to Padre Billini and it is on that corner to Calle las Damas, Zona Colonial.
All You Want To Know About The Oldest City In The Americas