The Palacio Consistorial, located in the Colonial City / Ciudad Colonial of Santo Domingo, was the original location of the old town hall. It is the oldest Town Hall in The Americas. Not only has this historical building witnessed unrivaled events in the history of The Dominican Republic, but it is also the place where many of the most important decisions of the country have been made.
The Palacio Consistorial was built between 1502 and 1504. It has been remodeled many times during its lifetime in which much of the original facade has been hidden and covered over.
The Palace was remodeled between 1911 and 1913 by the architect Osvaldo Báez Machado (Machado also remodeled the Iglesia de la Altagracia and The Hospital Padre Billini). He changed the edificio to have a neoclassical style that was very popular at that time.
The porch on the ground level runs along the entire building and the second floor boasts a large curved corner balcony and small balconies with iron railing.
Museo de la Villa de Santo Domingo
The interior of the Consistorial, also known as the Museo de la Villa de Santo Domingo, has a large central patio. It is exquisite with the beautiful fountain and surrounding terraces. An elegant staircase rises to the second floor. Along with the busts of the Padres de la Patria (Juan Pablo Duarte, Francisco del Rosario Sanchez and Ramon Matias Mella), there is a beautiful antique grand piano and crystal chandeliers.
In 1939 the exiled Spanish Architect Tomas Auñón made the interior woodwork and trim. In 1944, Vela Zanneti, the great Spanish muralist, made the mural that tells the history of the city. Starting with the loves of Miguel y Catalina up to the Era of Trujillo. The art emphasizes the San Zenón Hurricane that in 1930 marked the beginning of the 31 years of Trujillo’s dictatorship.
The most notable aspect of this historic building, the 95 foot high (29 meter) clock tower / torre del reloj. The tower was added during the time of Trujillo. The top of the tower has a crowned dome known as El Vivaque. The tower has a clock on its front that in old times was an important time peace in the city. Now, it is just for show.
For years the building was part of the Banco de Trabajadores. For a time it was a jail and a police station. Now the building houses Ayuntamiento del Distrito Nacional. It is also a beautiful and elegant space for art exhibitions and cultural activities.
This tower of the Consistorial Palace is an iconic part of the Colonial Zone. If you lose your way in the Colonial Area just look to the sky for this tower with the clock (usually the clock is not working). This unique tower can be seen from most of the surrounding Colonial Zone area. If you become lost or can’t remember how to get back to the Conde just locate the tower and head towards it.
– The building and its tower look like it is leaning towards the street. This, I am told, is an optical illusion.
The Consistorial Palace and the Museo de la Villa de Santo Domingo is on the corner of Calle El Conde and Arzobispo Meriño, at Parque Colon. Just look up and you will see the distinctive tower.
Father – Frey Bartolomé de Las Casas was so many things to so many people. He was part of the original colonization of Santo Domingo. He fought for human rights in defense of the Indigenous peoples of Hispaniola.
Frey Bartolomé de Las Casas was a Spanish colonist, a priest, a friar, the founder of a Utopian community and first Bishop of Chiapas. He was a scholar, historian and 16th century human rights advocate. Las Casas has been called the Father of anti-imperialism and anti-racism. Considered by some to be a saint and by others to be a fanatic and close to insanity.
Las Casas to this day is still very much an icon. He is the symbol of justice and the fight for human rights in Latin America. He led the way for many peoples fight for freedom and human rights. So, no matter what people thought of this Dominican monk, he made a great influence in the life and culture of the world.
It is interesting to note his birth and death years. 1484*-1566*. There are many different dates for the time of Las Casas birth and death. Originally it was said he was born 1474 but after some scholars did some studying they discovered he was really born much later in 1484. So now history has change and his official birth date is November 16, 1484. Las Casas died, some reports say on July 17th and others say the 18th, 1566 when he was either 81 or 82 years of age.
Las Casas was born in Spain and studied in the Cathedral school of Sevillana. He came to Hispaniola with the expedition of Nicholas de Ovando in 1502. He participated in some campaigns of conquest on the island and left for Rome in 1507. When he returned was granted an allotment of Indians by Diego Columbus.
Padre las Casas was the first to hold mass for the Indians in the Americas. A sermon of Fray Pedro of Cordova in favor of the Indians helped to unite the fight in the defense of the exploded Taino Indians. He intervened with the head of the Dominican priests to look for the solution to the problem of the indigenous peoples. As of that moment, the young priest became the lawyer of the mistreated Native race. With that aim he traveled to Spain, where he met with King Fernando the Catholic, at the end of 1515. He gained nothing with that interview.
After the Death of King Fernando, Cardinal Cisneros replaced him in the Court. Finally, with Cardinal Cisneros at the head, Bartolomé was able to form a group, administered by Spaniards and helped by monks, to aid the indigenous peoples of the island. Still, the people in charge did not want to give freedom to the Indians.
Las Casas returned to Spain, where meeting with the new Monarch Carlos V, proposed new plans to improve the life of the Indians. One of the proposals of the Father the Houses was the one to replace the indigenous population with black Africans. This proposal was accepted but it did not improve the situation of the Indian. The Indians of Hispaniola disappeared quickly, in spite of the effort of Las Casas to protect them.
When there were very few indigenous Indians left on the island Las Casas went to the newly conquered territories and continued with his defense of the natives. He was against the violent conquest of the territories and always protested against the great slaughtering carried on by the conquerors.
It is also interesting to note that Las Casas, while fighting for the rights of the Natives did not fight for the rights of the African Slaves. He did not want Indian slavery but he still used African slaves. Bartolomé de las Casas eventually came to the realization that all forms of slavery were wrong and inhumane. In The History of the Indies published in 1527 Las Casas is quoted saying “I soon repented and judged myself guilty of ignorance. I came to realize that black slavery was as unjust as Indian slavery…
and I was not sure that my ignorance and good faith would secure me in the eyes of God.”
Las Casas fought in several locations of South and Central America trying to prevent the extermination of the Indians. While in Peru he preached against the violence of Pizarro in the conquest of the Incan Empire. For this reason he was transferred and imprisoned in Santo Domingo in 1533.
Bartolomé continued his fight in 1535 when he was released from prison and continued on to Central America. In Guatemala he made an attempt of pacific conquest.
An interesting quote by Las Casas:
“The reason why the Christians have killed and destroyed such an infinite number of souls is that they have been moved by their wish for gold and their desire to enrich themselves in a very short time”
Las Casas Books
Las Casas fought for the rights of the Indians until his death in July 1566. He wrote several important works about the conquest and Spanish colonization in Las Americas. The books “Apologética” and the “Historia de Las Indias” (History of the Indians”) are the most recognized. In his will he signed over all his writings to the College of San Gregorio.
Some writings of Las Casas
*Apologetic History of the Indies
*History of the Indies
*A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies
*Comprobatory Treatise on the Imperial Sovereignty and Universal Jurisdiction which the Kings of Castile Have over these Indies
Earthquake / Terremotos / Temblor de Tierra Information for
Earthquakes / los Terremotos/ Temblor de Tierra
Yes, we do have earthquakes in Dominican Republic. We call an Earthquake in Spanish a Terremoto or Temblor de Tierra. Whatever you want to call them we do have this earth-shaking phenomenon occurring here on our island and we do have many earthquakes. The island of Hispaniola does have seismic activity almost daily, as with many places throughout the world, but the activity is so small that usually it cannot be felt. Every so often the quakes are strong and they can be felt. You can feel the earth move and sway under your feet!
The island of Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles chain of islands, rose out of the sea due to volcanic action. Dominican Republic has a long history of volcanic and seismic activity. The tallest mountain on the island, and for that matter in all of the Caribbean, is Pico Duarte. This mountain was at one time an active volcano. It rose out of the sea starting with this mountain and it is still rising. Many of the under water caves are not under water now. Don’t worry about Volcanoes for now. There are no active volcanos on our island.
There are two major fault systems or lines that run through the island. In the North Hispaniola Trench. It is located just offshore running parallel to the north coast. The other is the Septentrional Fault Zone which runs from the North Hispaniola Trench to the Cibao Valley and Santiago. The Septentrional Fault Zone is responsible for most of the earthquakes in Dominican Republic’s history.
View a PDF document of the fault lines going through Dominican Republic by www.ig.utexas.edu
The Puerto Rico Trench (on the Northern side of Puerto Rico and the Northeast tip of Dominican Republic), which is close to the Mona Passage, marks a boundary where the North American tectonic plate and the Caribbean tectonic plate slide past each other, with the North American plate also subducting or sliding beneath the Caribbean plate. With water depths of more than 8 km (5 mi) make the Puerto Rico Trench the deepest part in the entire Atlantic Ocean.(see the map and learn more)
The Mona Passage is the water pass that divides Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in the northeastern Caribbean. This area is very earthquake prone. Since the water level in this passage between the two islands is quite low it is very susceptible to Tsunamis. This passage has very fast flowing and dangerous waters with shifting currents that occur when the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea meet. http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2007/05/
Fault Lines / Fallas Sísmicas
There are also many smaller fault lines/ fallas sísmicas running through the island of Hispaniola. This is a map from Emergency Operations Center (COE) showing all the lines running through Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Brochures – What To Do
Below are the instructional brochures put out by the Emergency Operations Center about what to do before and after an Earthquake happens. They are in Spanish. Click on the images to see the images to enlarge.
Many people say many different things one needs to do to be safe during an earthquake. Stand in a doorway, don’t stand in a doorway. Don’t go outside, get outside and away from buildings. Get under something inside your house, get in the “Triangle of Life” / “Triangulo de Vida” around a piece of furniture. While others say you need to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” / “Agacharse, cubrirse y agarrarse”. Our suggestion is to do a search and see what you should do in case an earthquake happens.
Make a plan with your family and loved ones what to do and where to meet in case of an emergency situation. We also suggest if you are coming on vacation don’t worry about it. Just come and enjoy. Leave all the worries at home and relax. Earthquakes do not happen often and the hotel staff will be there to inform all on their procedures.
The Largest Earthquakes
The largest earthquake on record in recent history for the Dominican Republic was August 15, 1946. It was recorded at 8.1 and centered in Matanza in Maria Trinidad Sánchez, Nagua on the northern part of the island (a large tsunami hit the coast from Arroyo Salado to Cabrera and left areas under water for about three weeks was recorded at that time).
Other notable quakes:
*1961 – 6.6 quake southeast of Santo Domingo.
*1971 – 6.0 quake registered in the Azua area.
*1991 – 7.0 quake recorded in the Central Mountains and San Juan de la Maguana area.
*March 1993 – a 5.2 earthquake affected the south and southwest parts of Dominican Republic along the Mona Passage.
*April 1993 – a 5.7 earthquake affected the Cibao region.
*June 1993 – a 5.1 earthquake affected San Francisco de Macoris area in the northeast.
*January 5th, 2012 – in Palmar de Ocoa (some information on the San Jose de Ocoa quake)
*January 22, 2012 – a 5.0 in the East near La Romana.
*January 23, 2012 – a 5.4 Rio San Juan.(some more information about this and more quakes in January 2012)
*May 28, 2014 – a 5.8 at Boca De Yuma – Mona Passage at 5:15PM
*February 4, 2019 – a 5.3 quake at 10:33AM. 31km SSE of Boca de Yuma, Dominican Republic. People felt it in Punta Cana, Santo Domingo, Haina, Bani, Las Terrenas and many other locations in the country.
There was a 9.0 earthquake when the Europeans occupied the island on December 2, 1562. It destroyed the cities of La Vega and Santiago. A quake estimated to be a 10.0 happened on October 18, 1751 and devastated the southern region. A terremoto estimated to be 11.0 happened on May 7, 1842 destroyed the north of Haiti and much of what is now the Dominican Republic.
There have been many earthquakes and tsunamis resulting from the tectonic-plate motions that have occurred in the history of the northeastern Caribbean.
Sept. 22, 2003 Quake
At 11:45 pm on 22 September 2003, a M 6.7 earthquake severely shook the northern part of Dominican Republic. It caused extensive damage to buildings in the major cities of Puerto Plata and Santiago along with landslides in the outlying areas. There were also several large aftershocks (over 200 in all) that happened in the days and hours following this quake.
Here are a few pictures of an earthquake that happened in September 2003. These were taken in the Puerta Plata area by our friend Cochman.
Recommended Emergency Products
The Earthquake Alarm (Amazon) can wake you up and alert you the moment a quake starts giving you more time to take cover.
*Operates off of a 9-volt battery.
*Loud distinctive alarm to wake you up.
*Can detect earthquakes miles away.
*Fully adjustable sensitivity setting. and more..(incluye instrucciones en espanol!)
I have heard many people use a detector and they say they work quite well. I recommend getting one if you live in any Earthquake prone area.
Another product that I read about is The Quake Escape
Ready America 70280 Emergency Kit, 2-Person, 3-Day Backpack. A backpack that keeps supplies at the ready. (Amazon)
*Sustains two people for three days
*Includes food, water, and emergency blankets
*One 33-piece first aid kit
*USGS Earthquakes Hazards Program has all the Earthquakes listed in the world for the last 7 days. The latest in USA and surrounding areas (including Dominican Republic – sometimes called Mona Passage) with an earthquake of Magnitude 2.5 or greater. All other areas of the world are listed when they have a quake with a Magnitude 4.0 or greater.
All You Want To Know About The Oldest City In The Americas
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