Tag Archives: colonial zone

Fortaleza Ozama

The Fortress of Santo Domingo also known as Fortaleza Ozama

The Fortaleza Ozama is considered to be one of the oldest forts of its kind on the entire American continent. It was built between 1502 and 1508. Built with coral brought from the sea that were skillfully cut into blocks that fit tightly together. This fort extended from the eastern to the western bank of the Rio Ozama / Ozama River (Ozama is the Taino word for navigable waters or wetlands). It is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites inside the Colonial City.

Sun Rise Over Fortaleza Ozama
Sun Rise Over Fortaleza Ozama

Fortelaza Ozama | Fortaleza Ozama – Inside The Walls of Fortaleza Ozama | (1)La Puerta de Charles III/ The Gate of the Fortress | (2)The Statue of Oviedo | (3)The Tower of Homage/ Torre del Homenaje | (4)The Arsenal/ Armory Polvorín de Santa Bárbara | (5 & 6)The Low and High Shooting Platforms | (7)The remains of the First Fort/ Primera Obra | (8)Old Army Barracks | (9)The Fort of Santiago/ Fuerte de Santiago | (10)Casa de Bastidas | (11)Muralla de Felix Benito | Fortaleza Ozama in 1910 | Picture Collection over 300 pictures of the Fortaleza Ozama |

Map Inside Fortaleza Ozama Numbered 1

Map Inside Fortaleza Ozama Numbered 1

Governor Ovando

The Governor Frey Nicolas de Ovando, the founder of the city of Santo Domingo, is the person who personally chose this spot for this military instillation. The fort was built by the labor of the African and Taino slaves, as were most of the buildings of this era.

The strategic location of this fort gives it a perfect view of any ship or person trying to gain entry into the city of Santo Domingo. From high on the steep bank the fort overlooks both the Ozama River and the Caribbean Sea. This is where all the departures of the great expeditions to other regions of the Americas began. The strategic location was a perfect way to defend the city against attack by marauder and pirate, common occurrences at this time. The perfect placement of the fort made it a very formidable stronghold. It was never seized by force, even though many attempts were made. Considered to be “The Axis of the Conquest” Fortaleza Ozama was built by the Spaniards after they finished exploring the entire island.

Master builder Gómez Garcia de Varela was responsible for the building of this fort in all its stages. First was the erection of the tower. Then came the shooting platforms and the main defensive fort. As time passed new facilities were added and old ones modified as needed.

Etntrance To The Fortaleza Ozama
Etntrance To The Fortaleza Ozama

The Walls

The walls encompassing the fort are three meters thick with exception of the wall bordering the river. The river wall is only one meter thick. This was done so that if there was an explosion the wall would explode outward to the river. This restricted maximum possible damage.

The outer new wall, The Muralla de Felix Benito, was built when Port Santo Domingo and the sea road, the Malecon, was created. The dredge that was taken out of the port was used to make the land on which the highway now runs.

Visiting the Torre del Homenaje you will notice that it is very cool inside. This is because of the towers thick walls. This makes the climb to the top of the tower a pleasant experience even when done during the mid-day heat. The coral rock, which is what the buildings are made of, is a good moisture absorber. The cement holding it all together was made of gypsum, clay, lime and the blood of animals. This strong cement became stronger as time went on.

The Back Gate Wall of Fortaleza Ozama
The Back Gate Wall of Fortaleza Ozama

Fort Ozama was used as a prison up to the 1960’s. It housed many of the Dominican Republics political prisoners as well. In the 1970´s the fort was retired from military service. At this time the fort was restored and opened to the public.

In the outside wall of Fortaleza Ozama hear the main entrance is a Cannonball embedded in the wall.
In the outside wall of Fortaleza Ozama hear the main entrance is a Cannonball embedded in the wall.

Visiting Fortaleza Ozama

When visiting the fort be sure to take some time and walk the grounds to see the entire fort. Walk the perimeter of the wall that is lined with cannons. At the far corner of the back wall is an old look-out tower that has a Gothic feel. If the gate is open you can go down the old ramp to the lower shooting platform. If your visit coincides with mango season you might be able to pick a mango off one of the many trees along the back wall.

A few times I walked and took my time I found pieces of pottery and porcelain that are very old and I was told some pieces are from Portugal. Some pieces match the styles in the Museo of Casa Reales.

Sherd of history on the dirt  inside Fortaleza Ozama.
Sherd of history on the dirt inside Fortaleza Ozama.
Sherds from old pottery found on the grounds of the Fortaleza Ozama
Sherds from old pottery found on the grounds of the Fortaleza Ozama

Tour guides hang out at the gate if you would like a guided tour. You can go in unguided but a guide can explain so much of the history it is worth the small price you will pay. It costs $60 pesos per person (RD$20 for students and children) to enter and about $300 for a guide to take you, more or less. (price as of 5/2013)

The Entrance To Fortaleza Ozama on Calle Las Damas
The Entrance To Fortaleza Ozama on Calle Las Damas


Located on Calle Las Damas and Calle Pellerano Alfau, Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo. Walking on Calle el Conde towards the river take a right onto Calle las Damas and it will be about 1 block down on the left.
Telephone: 806-686-0222

See the picture slideshow of the Fortaleza Ozama. Picture Collection over 300 pictures of the Fortaleza Ozama

Continue to the 2nd page – Fortaleza Ozama – Inside The Walls of Fortaleza Ozama

Casa de las Academias

Casa de las Academias/ House of the Academies or Casa de Lilís

Casa de las Academias is known as the Seat of the Academies of History, Language and Sciences/ Sede de las Academias de Historia, de la Lengua y de la Ciencias.

Casa de Lilís home of the Casa de las Academias


The Dominican Academy of Language was founded October 12, 1927 to ensure the functions of language development. The Dominican Academy of History dedicated to the area of history was founded 23 July 1931 to provide research and studies of Dominican history, search, sort and classify data and documents and to provide information and documentation to people who do research on history. The Academy of Sciences of the Dominican Republic was established on December 20, 1974 to promote the development of science in the Dominican Republic.

Casa de Lilís, home of the Casa de las Academias

Casa de Lilís

The house was constructed in 2 different centuries thus the different styles. Originally President Ulises Hereaux (Lilís) occupied the home. It was later remodeled by Manuel Maria Gautier. He had a balcony and the iron railings added to the design in the French tradition. This beautiful building has also been the home of Receptoria de Aduana/ Customs Receiving, Banco Central/ Central Bank, Logia Masónic/ Masonic Lodge among others.

Directions: Calle Las Mercedes #204, Zona Colonial.

Colegio de Gorjón

Colegio de Gorjón, home of Centro Cultural de España

Colegio de Gorjón/ College or School of Gorjón was a vision of rich landowner and sugar tycoon Hernando de Gorjón. The building was later restored and now is the home of Centro Cultural de España/ Cultural Center of Spain.

The College of Gorjón home of Central Cultural de España.

Hernando de Gorjón

Hernando de Gorjón came to the island in 1502 on the same expedition that brought Fray Governor Nicholas de Ovando and the Licenciado/ Lawyer Bartolomé de las Casas. Since he did not have any heirs Gorjón decided to build a college for the study of sciences. Sadly, he never got to see his dream completed. The building was finished in 1550, after his death.

University of Santiago De La Paz

In 1583 it was named part of the University of Santiago De La Paz. The university was finally confirmed by Cédula Real in 1741 when Fernando VI gave it recognition as the Universidad de Santo Domingo.

An art display on the front of the Centro Cultural de España.

Centro Cultural de España/ Cultural Center of Spain

The Colegio de Gorjón was restored beautifully in the 1970’s by the Comisión de Monumentos de Santo Domingo/ Monument Commission. At this time it was decided to make the building return to its original use and become a center for learning and culture. In 1990 the location was the Centro Cultural Hispánico. Since 1998 to present day The Colegio de Gorjón is the home of the Centro Cultural de España/ Cultural Center of Spain (CCEDS http://www.ccesd.org). It is an institution integrated into the worldwide network of cultural centers of the Spanish Agency of Cooperation the International, AECI.


Many architectural interests of great historic value can be seen throughout the Colegio de Gorjón starting with the main entrance and windows.

The outside of the building can be very deceiving as it looks so plain and simple. Once you enter the front doors the interior is quite large.

Entering the building there is a stone vestibule that represents the Elizabethan period in the New World. It is decorated with several restored shields of arms that were destroyed during the Haitian invasion.

Patio of the Centro Cultural de España.

The main room was originally a chapel. Today it is the exhibition hall named in honor of painter and sculptor Antonio Prats Ventós. The Spanish patio is now the place where many outdoor concerts and exhibitions are held. The patio is surrounded by splendid columns and holds about 200 people.

Many of the old classrooms from the original school are now exhibition halls including Sala Maria Ugarte and the Sala Fotográfica. On the second floor is a library, smaller rooms and offices.


Calle Arz. Meriño between Calle Jose Gabriel Garcia and Arz. Portes.