Tag Archives: history

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.

Ceiba de Colon

Ceiba de Colon

The Ceiba de Colón is a historical tree located near the mouth of the Río Ozama. Legend states that this is where Christopher Columbus moored his ship the Santa María when he first arrived in the Americas.

Ceiba de Colón and the new tree protecting it.

The trunk of the Ceiba de Colón, mostly covered in cement now, has been protected throughout history. The Dominican people tried to keep the tree upright and alive as long as possible. But, as all trees do, it just got old. The trunk began to split, become hollow and finally, the tree fell. All that remains of that tree is cement and stone that were used to cover the original tree trunk.

Ceiba de Colon in 1905
Ceiba de Colon in 1905

Today there is another Ceiba tree growing next to the original cement covered trunk. It is said to be there to protect the original tree. Akin to a daughter, with its arms outstretched, covering and protecting the elderly mother from all the worlds troubles.

Ceiba de Colon where Columbus moored his ship
Ceiba de Colon where Columbus moored his ship

About The Ceiba

The Ceiba tree throughout the history of the world has been shrouded in many myths and legends. It is said the routs of this ancient tree can reach to the deepest parts of the underworld and also represents the terrestrial realms. In Mayan mythology the Ceiba, or tree of life, is said to hold up the sky. It is the national tree of Guatemala. It is a common tree found in warm, tropical regions. The Ceiba can grow to be very tall and its branches form a huge shady canopy.

Cebia de Colon seen from Fuerte del Angulo
Cebia de Colon seen from Fuerte del Angulo


Near Puerta de las Atarazanas and Avenida del Puerto. It is easily spotted when entering the Colonial Zone from the Puenta Flotando. Walking, go north from Calle el Conde past Plaza España, down the stairs. Continue walking along the wall of the original city up Calle Atarazanas. Walk to a small Plaza where the road ends. Look over the wall at the cannon and you will see the cement covered stump and the new tree growing at it’s side.

Casa del Tapao

Casa del Tapao / House of the Man’s Coat

Casa del Tapao is a large two story stone home that is beautifully restored and conserved. The residence was built in the 14th century between 1554 and 1556. Duque de Rivera, with help from the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, helped build this home. The shield of the Duque is located atop the stone portal of the main entrance.

Casa del Tapao.
Casa del Tapao.

Casa del Tapao Legends

Casa del Tapao is shrouded in legend and mystery. No one is sure exactly what went on behind the walls of this home.

It is said that the condemned prisoners arriving here from Mexico stayed in this house and always left covering their faces so they could not be identified.

One legend of the Casa del Tapao says that the gentleman living here was deformed and had a disfigured face, maybe from some disease such as leprosy. He only left the house at night and always had his face covered. Some legends state that this man was the twin brother of the King of Spain and he was hidden here so as not to disgrace the family.

The story says that the lone resident was a strange man who always kept his face covered so he could not be recognized. The people did not know much about this mysterious man so they called him “El Hombre del Tapado”

All these legends have one thing in common; someone stayed here who was secretive and stayed covered. None know for sure now why the inhabitants of this house always seemed to remain under cover. This is another mystery of the history of the Colony of Santo Domingo that will never be answered.

Casa del Tapao now is part of La Quinta Billini located a little further down Calle Padre Billini. The building is used for cultural events, art exhibitions and can be rented for special activities and parties.


Casa del Tapao on the corner of 19 De Marzo and Padre Billini
Casa del Tapao on the corner of 19 De Marzo and Padre Billini

This beautifully preserved home is located on the corners of Calle 19 de Marzo and Padre Billini just 2 blocks form Calle el Conde. (The streets originally were named Calle del Tapao and Calle del Convento.)