The Fuerte de la Carena and Fuerte de Angulo are difficult to tell apart as they seem to be interconnected. When the Malecon (Avenida del Puerto Francisco Alberto Camaaño Deñó) was built much of both of these forts were destroyed and lost forever.
You can walk along the walls of the city of Santo Domingo, now known as Colonial Zone, and see where these forts once were. There are still some catwalks atop the walls where you can walk and see over the walls. Looking down from the walls of these forts you can see the Malecon and the legendary trunk of the Ceiba de Colón
Fort of the Carena is a small rectangular bunker located to the north of Fuerte de Angulo. The original structure dates back to 1543. This is part of the Fort of Santo Domingo where boats were brought for repair.
The fort was rebuilt on its original foundation in 1991.
Directions: Avenida del Puerto along the wall of the Fort Santo Domingo. Calle La Atarazana and General Cabral.
Fuerte de Angulo
Fuerte de Angulo was a military station and was originally named the Fuertecillo when it was originally constructed in the 18th century. The fort was rebuilt in 1991.
You can see the walls of this fort as you enter the Colonial Zone on Avenida del Puerto crossing the Puente Flotante / Floating Bridge and looking to the right.
Directions: Avenida del Puerto and Juan Parra Alba on the outside wall. Inside the wall Calle La Atarazana, Calle Colón and Calle La Negrita, Barrio Santa Barbara.
Title page: A VOYAGE TO NORTH AMERICA, AND THE WEST INDIES, IN 1817. BY E. MONTULE. KNIGHT OF THE ROYAL ORDER OF THE LEGION OF HONOUR. AUTHOR OF TRAVELS IN EGYPT, &C. Library of Congress 1867 City of Washington PRINTED FOR SIR RICHARD PHILLIPS AND Co.BRIDE COURT, BRIDGE STREET 1821
Note from Janette – Colonial ZoneI will include excerpts of the document that pertains to Dominican Republic or things that I feel are of interest to my web site viewers and bold the things I really enjoy (to read the entire 102 page document click the link above). The voyage seems to start and end in New York. Starting on November 8, 1816 and ending on October 5, 1817. In his description of New York he seemed to really like the city according to what I read. It is interesting to note that he said one did not need a passport or documentation to enter the city.
The highlights of the document are where Édouard de Montulé writes about what he sees in his first visit to the Island. Included is a description of a cock fight, the way women look and behave, about the “lazy inhabitants” (maybe they are this way because of the heat). He describes the wooded areas, the birds he does not recognize, mosquitoes, a cave, mountains and rivers, different palm trees and fruits (bananas, coconuts, pineapple and more..). He describes how a house looked and how several “negros” were singing songs of the Congo and pounding a poisonous root to make cakes they serve as bread (casabe). He wrote about the tower where Columbus lived and how it was the “first European edifice erected on American soil.” Also about running into pirates when leaving the island.
The beginning of the Dominican Republic information starts on Page 19 – From St. Domingo, the 15th February 1817.
Here are some of my favorite excerpts:
(page 20) The town of Santo Domingo is large, and built of stone, and the streets are, generally speaking, in direct lines; the cathedral might pass for a noble edifice in any country; in it is preserved the anchor of Columbus’s ship, together with his portrait, whose resemblance to that of the great man who has so recently filled the universe with his name, must appear striking to every observer. The place is surrounded by a pretty good fortification; some hills command it on one side, and it has recently been strengthened by a trench.
——– Santo Domingo, the 26th February 1817. LETTER VI.
Santo Domingo is regularly enough built, and, generally speaking, handsome; the national or citizen guard performs duty well, but the colony is in so declining a state that it is painful to witness. The governor of Western Spain formerly resided at Santo Domingo, but that vice-royalty has long been removed to Vera Cruz.
The Spaniard’s great delight consists in passing the day in idleness, his principal labor being reduced to drinking, eating, sleeping, and frequenting the churches, which are numerous: all this, however, does not prevent the two sexes from abandoning themselves to those passions which a burning climate creates and maintains. Every one on rising, at about five o’clock, takes a cup of black coffee, this being a general custom in the colonies; after which they repair to the public promenade. The ladies, habited in black, whereon the whiteness of the linen and lace contrasts agreeably, are at that hour usually unaccompanied; it is not however uncommon to see them accosted, or even escorted by priests; they are in general good looking, but precisely in the costume of Bazil, in the Marriage of Figaro. After this walk, and paying some visits to churches, they return home, there to remain till sun-set. At the moment when the oratio, or angelus bell rings, (no matter how distant from the pealing sound) you are bound to stop short; at least you must take off your hat, and fall upon your knees; this is a pious act which admits of no exception. In a more populous Spanish city, the sudden stoppage of an whole moving multitude, must appear very extraordinary; since it so forcibly struck me in the depopulated streets of Santo Domingo.
The women are not, strictly speaking, handsome, they are small, but well made; and their complexion, somewhat brown, is not unbecoming, but the sparkling vivacity of their eyes, and their whole physiognomy, conveys an expression of their internal thoughts and feelings.
Some time after my excursion to Nissas, passing along Commerce Street, one of the finest of the town, I saw a great crowd at the door of a house, and was informed by M. La Coste, the French physician, that the persons so assembled were waiting to witness the cock fights; that I might enter if I thought fit, that he himself often resorted there, and was fortunate in betting.
Accordingly I went in, having never witnessed a similar spectacle, of which the Spaniards here are very great amateurs. This cruel sport takes place in a species of theatre, the roof and columns of which are not unlike the covering and pillars of a cottage decorating a garden in the English style. The stairs conducting to the first tier!–You are doubtless astonished!! but really there are first places–formed like a ladder, which would well become a hen-house; be this as it may, persons of the highest ton honour this place with their presence, and bet for the black or white cock, from one, two, or three hundred piasters, up (page24) to two thousand francs, or eighty pound. The cocks have no steel spurs as in England, but nature has armed them with double spurs, at least compared with those of France, and care is taken to render them very sharp. These birds come from the island of Porto Rico, and are sold at very high prices, according to their strength and courage.
When the two cocks equally fatigued retire to the extreme verge of the arena, their respective masters excite them; each taking his bird, puts its bleeding head into his mouth, as if intending to devour it, at the same time passing his hand under the tail, he rubs it with an aspect so truly serious and comic, that I believe no physiognomy save that of a Spaniard could support the expression. The combat then recommences, and terminates only with the death of one of the champions. The day I was present, two cocks not fighting well, their masters seized them spontaneously, and killed them by dashing them vehemently to the ground. Not being tempted to bet, I retired, reflecting on the instantaneous fury with which those birds are seized; which led me to make some comparisons not very honourable to humanity; these, however, I shall keep to myself.
We passed by an habitation, where several negroes, singing songs of Congo, were pounding the root of the manioc, from which they make cakes that serve for bread. They worked with unparalleled ardor, and did not seem to perceive the sweat which channelled down their ebony limbs. This root if not undried would be a poison; but as it could not then be scraped, the use of it is not so dangerous as might be imagined.
The island of St. Domingo, and particularly that part in possession of the Spaniards, has gold mines, which are no longer worked; it is even stated that they are lost: they might, however, easily be found, since upon the banks of some rivers negroes are occupied in collecting the gold-dust. (page 29) The centre of the island being occupied by mountains, which in all directions descend to the sea, in hills, or verdant plots, called Mornes, it may be conceived that there are many rivers. The Ozama, upon the right bank of which St. Domingo is situated, is large and deep; the whole island is naturally divided into three parts, by the mountains; a circumstance which greatly tends to diminish any apprehensions from the Negroes and the Mulattos.
Iglesia y El Fuerte de Santa Bárbara / Church and Fort of Santa Barbara
Iglesia de Santa Bárbara / Church of Santa Barbara now known as Catedral Castrense Santa Bárbara de los Hombres de la Mar
The Iglesia and Fuerte of Santa Barbara is one of the oldest churches built within a fort in the colonial period. It is a UNESCO World Historical Site. The church and fort were originally built separately. The church was constructed in 1537 and the fort was built later because the location was very strategic for the protection of the city of Santo Domingo.
On Tuesday February 4, 2020 the newly rescued and restored Iglesia de Santa Barbara became known as Catedral Castrense Santa Bárbara de los Hombres de la Mar, or the Santa Barbara de la Mar Cathedral. The Roman Catholic Church in the Dominican Republic announced that the Church of Santa Bárbara will now officially be the second Cathedral in the Ciudad Colonial. The Santa Barbara Cathedral is now the seat of the newly-named Military Diocese, Diócesis Castrense.
The statues in the front of the newly ordained Cathedral are the martyr Santa Bárbara de Nicomedia Patron Saint of armorers, artillerymen, architects. The second is St. Francis of Assisi the Patron saint of Animals, Merchants & Ecology.
The church is a single long building with five distinct sections, as can be seen from the outside of the building. The original church building was made of royal palm. Later, in 1537, it was rebuilt in stone. The blocks were quarried from this very site as were the stone blocks for many monuments and buildings of the era.
The interior of the church has eight distinct chapels each are from very distinct and are from different eras.
The building has been damaged many times throughout its history. Both the Fuerte and Iglesia were heavily damaged by a hurricane in 1591. Then earthquakes in 1673 and 1684 did extensive damage to the Iglesia. The Pirate Francis Drake did severe damage to the church when he invaded the island in 1586. Each time the church was repaired something new was added to the structure. It is interesting to note that the ceiling of this historical monument is still covered with the original bricks.
The Iglesia Santa Barbara boasts to be the place where Juan Pablo Duarte, The Father of the Nation, was baptized on February 14, 1813.
Interesting stories surrounding the Iglesia and Fort
There are many crypts under the church that recently have been discovered. There are also bones in the walls and a newly discovered cemetery in the Plaza surrounding the church.
“Las Vírgenes de Galindo” / “The Virgins of Galindo” – Three young sisters and their father were massacred in 1822 by Haitian invading forces. – Cesar Nicolás Penson said in his works “Cosas Añejas”
El Fuerte de Santa Bárbara / Fort of Santa Barbara
The Fort of Santa Barbara is the only fort with a church inside. The church was built first and later when the fort was built both structures were incorporated together. This is a very unique thing to have a fort and church entwined. The bunker for the fort is attached to the church.
The city of Santo Domingo was a walled city but the north section of the city did not have walls built until 1686. Building the fort in this furthest section of the city was an important step in the fortification of the city.
This fort was part of the third stage of protection for the city. Construction began in the early 1540’s and the final phase was completed in the early 1700’s. It was designed by an Italian builder and a Spanish stone cutter. The fort and church, as with most of the Spanish settlement, was built by slave labor by African and the Indigenous island dwellers.
The end of the 17th century brought constant attacks to all the Antilles Islands. This fort was a bunker facing the mouth of the river Ozama thus giving it an excellent view of the entry port. It was a very strategic location for the strength of the city of Santo Domingo.
Santa Barbara Today
The barrio of Santa Barbara where the fort and church are located is a good place to visit. It is a typical Dominican barrio that has a small town feel. There are some great art works and graffiti covering the walls of many of the buildings. Many of these buildings are in need of repair and are abandoned but the facades on many of these buildings are incredible.
The church, fort and plaza have been completely restored and is open for visiting. The renovation work which has taken many years to complete is beautifully done. The bronze monuments and statues in the Plaza and the Fuerte Santa Barbara are beautiful. The interior of the church, now officially is a Cathedral, is amazing. The stained glass windows, the statues and adornments inside the church and the chapels are a must see. This place is a place that everyone needs to visit when you are in the Colonial Zone.
Here is a picture that was taken February 17, 2019 of the renovation work being done. It is looking great.
If you visit Santa Barbara make sure to climb up the ramp to the top of the shooting wall of the Fuerte Santa Barbara. The wall is lined with cannons and in the center is the giant statue of Saint Francis of Assisi. The catwalk along the wall is easy to climb and the side of the walk towards the river is blocked off. There is a very nice view of the Colonial City of Santo Domingo and the Rio Ozama from the top of the fort wall.
: From Calle el Conde go south up Calle Isabel la Católica or Calle Arzobispo Meriño (both of these streets lead to this monument). Walk about 6 blocks almost to Av. Mella at the far end of the walled city, Colonial Zone.
All You Want To Know About The Oldest City In The Americas