The Faro San Souci at Punta Torrecilla is located near the entrance to the port of Santo Domingo at Rio Ozama on the South Coast of Dominican Republic. The yellow and black lighthouse stands at the tip of the park Punta Torrecilla on the coral cliffs of the Caribbean Sea. The lighthouse can be seen from many points around the city.
The original lighthouse in this location was built around 1853. It was deactivated and demolished in 1967. The present Black and Yellow Faro located on the point was built in 1986. It is very similar in appearance to the Survivors Lighthouse on the North Coast in Puerta Plata.
The pyramid-like concrete tower is 125 feet tall. The entire height, including the light, is 135 feet tall. Faro Sans Souci sends out a blinking white light beacon with a view range of 13 nautical miles. The lighthouse is used as a navigational aid for entrance into the Port of Santo Domingo. The Faro San Souci sits on a terrain about 7 meters above sea level.
Punta Torrecilla Park and Beach
From the vantage point of the park at Punta Torrecilla, there is a beautiful view of the city of Santo Domingo and Avenida George Washington also known as the Malecon. There are usually people fishing off the coral cliffs. Sit, relax and watch the many ships bringing and leaving with their loads. Many Cruise Ships and the Ferry from Puerto Rico come and go from the Puerto Santo Domingo. The ports include Puerto San Souci and Puerto Don Diego.
The park was at one time had beautiful walkways along the coral cliffs where the waves of the turquoise Caribbean Sea broke. Now the paths are broken and most lay in rubble. The park is usually littered with trash from people picnicking under the palm trees and there are no facilities.
At the so-called beach local youths like to swim off the cliffs which can be dangerous. Swimming is prohibited here during popular Dominican holidays because of the hazards. It is visited by police and military off and on, trying to keep the area safe. It is OK to visit during the daylight but I would highly advise against visiting after dark. It is a lonely and quiet place where derelicts and bad humans frequent.
The Park of Punta Torrecilla, where the Faro sits, is located at Dominican Republic’s South East coast in Los Mameyes, Santo Domingo Este along Avenida España on the property of the Naval Base 27 de Febrero. Academia Naval / Naval Academy is located across the street and the Club De Oficiales De La Marina De Guerra / Navy Officers Club is next door. Coming into Santo Domingo from the airport the park sits on the left before you enter the city.
Fuerte y Parque de San José/ Fort and Park San Jose
The Fuerte San José is a beautifully restored fort located in the historic Colonial City. The Parque San Jose is a well-kept park. It is the perfect place to relax. You can watch some young people do some skateboarding or enjoy a game of basketball all under the beautiful shade trees located throughout the park.
was part of a series of bastions built to defend the walled city of Santo Domingo in the 16th century. It was part of the walls that ran along the Caribbean Sea and was an important part of the protection from attacks by sea.
Fuerte San José was built near the mouth of the Rio Ozama. The strategic placement of this fort was to watch the comings and goings at the mouth of Rio Ozama. The rectangular shaped fort has an artillery platform that was equipped on 3 sides with cannons. Its two watchtowers (garitas redondas) lookout out points gave a great view of the surrounding sea and land. There was also a lighthouse located in the fort at the entrance to the Rio Ozama that guided ships into the mouth of the river.
It is important to remember that the road (The Malecon / Av. George Washington) in front of the fort did not exist at that time. It was built later by President-Dictator Trujillo. During the time of the colonization of Santo Domingo the water came up to the walls of these seaside forts. Now the walls are surrounded by a road.
Construction of Fort San Jose began in the mid 1500’s and took over 2 centuries to complete. The walls were built first by president Alonso de Fuenmayor who had some serious money problems and could not complete construction. Finally, at the beginning of the 17th century, the wall of this important fort was finished. Finishing the wall ensured that the seafront was fully protected by connecting the forts San Gil, San Fernando, San Carlos, Santa Catalina to San José. San Gil and San José was the largest of these forts that provided the main defense of the city of Santo Domingo.
Parque San José
In the 1940’s the deteriorating fort was restored and a beautiful shaded park was created surrounding the bastion. Parque San José, also known as Parque Montecinos, is a place where locals like to gather to enjoy a time of rest and to visit friends and family. There are all types of nice places for you to sit and relax and enjoy the view.
You can climb the shooting ramp to the elevated platform of the old Fort San José. Here you can have a perfect view of the statue of Fray Anton de Montecino.
Located in the center of the larger part of the park is an Ornamental Fountain that the United States gifted to the Dominican Republic. It was placed here to mark the 100 year centennial anniversary of the country’s independence and the expulsion of the Haitian government from the country.
There is Montecino Skateboard Park in the Parque San José located on the Malecon near to Calle Arz Meriño. You can see many skate events or watch someone having a good time skating on the ramps and jumps of the park. You can always bring your board and have a go.
A Basketball Court is also located in the park on the corners of The Malecon, Calle Arz Meriño and Jose Gabriel Garcia where you can watch the game from above. If you go down to the court level there are small rooms under the street. This is known as The Cueva de las Golondrinas / Cave of Swallows. This is an underground storage place for equipment, street signs and there is a small police station.
From Calle El Conde walk towards the sea on Calle 19 de Marzo or Meriño to the Malecon. The Fort – Park is located between these 2 streets running along the Malecon in front of the monument Fray Anton de Montesino. Between Avenida George Washington (Paseo Presidente Billini – Malecon) and Jose Gabriel Garcia and Calle 19 de Marzo, Ciudad Colonial.
The Faro a Colón/ Columbus Lighthouse is a massive building shaped like a cross located in Eastern Santo Domingo. It is both a Museum and Mausoleum, it is said to house the remains of Christopher Columbus.
The Faro or Lighthouse was built to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Admiral Cristobal Colón / Christopher Columbus to Santo Domingo in Las Americas in 1492. It sits on a large lot of land with reflecting pools on either side of the entrance (the only time there is water in the pools now is if it rains). There is a sidewalk where you can walk completely around the monstrous building and take in the views of the Caribbean Sea and the city of Santo Domingo in the distance. There are also pathways on the property where you can meander about.
This monuments design was chosen out of many applicants from the world over. The jury chose the design of Joseph Lea Gleave from England. His design was described as “an enormous cross-shaped structure designed to last for all times”. The jury described his design in this way, “THE DESIGN, MAKING WONDERFUL USE OF LIGHT, TAKES REFUGE IN A DIRECTNESS, SIMPLICITY AND FORCE WORTHY OF THE MONUMENTS OF THE AGES. THE DESIGN IS SYMBOLIC, BUT NOT TO THE EXTENT WHERE SYMBOLISM INTERFERES WITH THE SIMPLE BEAUTY OF THE WORK AS ARCHITECTURE. SEEN FROM THE AIR, OR FROM ITS SURROUNDINGS, THE SIMPLE MASS BECOMES A NOBLE ELEMENTAL FEATURE OF THE GROUND AND OF A CHARACTER WORTHY OF THE STEADFAST COURAGE AND FAITH OF THE GREAT DISCOVERER IT COMMEMORATES”.
The Columbus Lighthouse was inaugurated October 6, 1992 by President Joaquin Balaguer Ricardo. At the commemoration ceremony, the remains of Columbus were carried from the First Cathedral of the Americas through the streets, across the river and to their new resting place inside this enormous monument.
The ceremony was even attended by Pope John Paul II. The Popes Pope-Mobile / Papamóvil can be seen parked outside of the entrance to the Faro.
A statue of Queen Isabel la Católica marks the entrance to the Faro as you approach on Ave. Mirador del Este. Queen Isabel la Católica, Queen of Castile, commissioned Cristobal Colón voyage to the New World.
There is a large paved walk and grand stairs that lead up to the entrance of the Faro. The walkway is lined by many different countries’ flags waving in the breeze.
Escudo de Armas
On the entrance walkway you will notice the Christopher Columbus, Coat of Arms / Cristóbal Colón, Escudo de Armas. It is divided into 4 sections.
1) A castle of gold / Un castillo de oro
2) Lion crowned in gold with silver background / En campo de plata un leon rampante de gules coronado de oro
3) Islands of gold in a blue background / En campo de azur unas islas de oro
4) Five gold ancors in a blue background / En campo de azur cinco ancoras de oro, puestas en aspa.
Entado en punta de oro con una banda de azur y el jefe de
Climbing the stairs to the front gate there is a bust of President Joaquin Balaguer watching over all who enter.
The museum and chapel inside are a repository for numerous documents and artifacts associated with the early Spanish Colonial times. There are rooms dedicated to the Latin America Countries displaying many different artifacts and items of interest from the represented country.
The Building and Light
The Faro a Colón is 693ft (211m) long East to West and 195 long feet North to South. This massive monument is 45 feet high. It was built in the shape of a cross at a 45-degree angle. It has 4 bronze lions and the feminine figurine that represents the Dominican Republic.
The building, in my opinion, is quite ugly from the outside. Its huge grey shape can be seen from a great distance even high in the air. The most impressive part of the structure is when they turn on the 157 beams of light illuminating the night sky with its brilliant cross. Now, the light is only turned on for special occasions because of the cost and problems with the electricity in the country. The light, it is said, can be seen in Puerto Rico on a clear night. It is very beautiful and quite impressive to see this cross-shaped beam of light shining in the night sky.
The exterior of the building has a representation of 43 different countries. Most are countries in The Americas but there are others included.
Nicaragua. Panama. Paraguay. Peru. Republica Dominicana. Puerto Rico. San Cristobal. Y Nevis. Republica Dominicana. Santa Lucia.
San Vincent. Y Las Granadinas. Suriname. Trinidad Y Tobago. Uruguay. Venezuela. España. Portugal. Italia. Inglaterra. Japon. Aruba. Curazao. Republica Dominicana. Mexico. Jamaica. Honduras.
Haiti. Guyana. Guatemala. Granada. Estados Unidos. El Salvador. Ecuador. Dominica. Cuba. Costa Rica. Colombia. Chile. Canada. Bolivia. Brazil. Belice. Barbados. Bahamas. Argentina. Antigua Y Barbuda. Republica Dominicana.
43 countries (48 blocks).
*Republica Dominicana holds 4 blocks.
*San Cristobal Y Nevis (Saint Kitts and Nevis) is one country with 2 blocks.
*San Vincent Y Las Granadinas is one country with 2 blocks.
There is still much debate on whether the remains located in the Faro really belong to Christopher Columbus. Spain also claims to have his remains. Neither country wants DNA tests done on the bones in their possession so it will remain a mystery. To read more on this