Tag Archives: iglesia

Chapel of the Rosary

La Capilla del Rosario/ The Chapel 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.

Capilla del Rosario close-up.

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. This 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 there when stopped in 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. They moved across the river to the city that is now Santo Domingo that Governor Frey Nicolas de Ovando founded.

La Capilla del Rosario as seen from Plaza Reloj de Sol

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.

La Capilla del Rosario across Rio Ozama.

Much research and Archaeological studies have been done at this location and it was found that the limestone floors are dated from the 15th century. Found were Spanish potteries and a container for holy oils. Also, there were many skeletons found dated from many different eras.


You must have permission from the Tourism Department5 to visit the Chapel. The access road is the property of Los Molinos and they will not permit visitors without written permission for now.

Iglesia de Santa Clara

Convento y Iglesia de Santa Clara/ Convent and Church of Santa Clara

Iglesia de 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.

Balcony of the Colegio Santa Clara

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.

Iglesia de Santa Clara

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.

Iglesia de Santa Clara front door


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.

Virgen de la Altagracia

Virgen de la Altagracia/ Virgin of the Highest Grace. Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia, Patrona de La República Dominicana.

The country’s official patron saint and Queen Protector of the heart of Dominicans.

The altar inside the Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia in Colonial Zone
The altar inside the Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia in Colonial Zone.

The Story

The story of Our Lady de Altagracia dates back to when Spain first colonized the island of Hispaniola. Two men, Alonso y Antonio de Trejo, brought a painting of the Virgin to Hispaniola from their home in Placencia, in the region of Extremadura in 1502.

The legend states that the image of the Virgin mysteriously disappeared from the house of the brothers Trejo. The painting later reappeared in an orange bush. The location of this bush is where the first church of Higuey was built.

Now thousands of devoted visitors make the trek here to deposit offerings and to ask favors of the Mother of Christ. Dominicans pray to her for miracles and cures and for intercession for whatever troubles them. Las Noches de Vela/ the Nights of Prayer is celebrated the night before Altagracia Day.

The painting of the Virgen de la Altagracia
The painting of the Virgen de la Altagracia

The painting (shown here) of the patron saint of Dominican Republic that is found in the Basílica Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia located in Salvaleón de Higüey. It is said to have been painted in the late 15th century in Spain. It was mysteriously delivered by a shrouded old man who dropped the painting and disappeared. This painting shows the scene of the birth of Jesus. The frame is made from Dominican gold and inlaid with fine enamels, precious stones and jewels. The painting has been completely restored.

Basílica Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia located in Salvaleón de Higüey
The Basílica Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia located in Salvaleón de Higüey

See the picture slideshow of The Basílica Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia) located in Salvaleón de Higüey.

The Miracle

Another miracle story is about how Dominican soldiers appealed to the Virgin to help them win victory over the French in the 1691 battle in La Limonade, near Cap-Haitien in northern Haiti. They won the battle.

Virgen de la Altagracia was crowned the spiritual mother of Higuey by pontificate of Pius XI in August 15, 1922. The ceremony was held in Santo Domingo at the Puerta del Conde. It was declared that Día de la Altagracia celebrated on January 21st would be a National holiday by the President of the Dominican Republic, Doctor Joaquin Antonio Balaguer Ricardo. Many important people of the Catholic Church attended this ceremony.

Virgen de Altagracia art work
Virgen de Altagracia art work

This celebration is now a blend of African religions and Catholicism. Dominicans recite prayers, play African influenced music, sing hymns and dance.

English: “The hour is, then, causes so that we swear on the foot of this Basilica, in the presence of the Delegate of his Sanctity, His Eminence the Cardinal Jose Humberto Quintero, who from today and onward we will work together by the good of the Mother country and the union and the concord of the national family”

Spanish: “La hora es, pues, propicia para que juremos al pie de esta Basílica, en presencia del Delegado de Su Santidad, Su Eminencia el cardenal José Humberto Quintero, que desde hoy en adelante trabajaremos juntos por el bien de la Patria y por la unión y la concordia de la familia nacional” proclaimed Balaguer, when giving the Basilica to the Ecclesiastical authorities.

See our picture collection of the Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia located in Ciudad Colonial.

The procession through the streets of Colonial Zoe to honor the Patron Saint Altagracia.
The procession through the streets of Colonial Zoe to honor the Patron Saint Altagracia.

Did You Know?

*1 in every 12 Dominicans are named Altagracia in honor of the patron saint.

*Every year more than 800,000 people make the pilgrimage to the Basílica of Altagracia in Higuey.

*Pope John Paul II visited the Basilica in Higuey when he came to the island January 25, 1979.

See the dates of all the Patron Saint celebrations throughout Dominican Republic