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Faro a Colón / Columbus Lighthouse

Faro a Colón/ Columbus Lighthouse

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.

The Design | Inguration (Pope-Mobile) | The Entrance (Isabel la Católica) | Escudo de Armas | The Building and Light | Columbus Remains | Hours-Location |

The Faro a Colón standing majesticly as the sun brightens the sky.
The Faro a Colón standing majesticly as the sun brightens the sky.

The Design

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 Faro a Colón entrance.
The Faro a Colón entrance.

Inguration

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 Popemobile located outside of the Faro a Colón. Pope John Paul II rode in it when he visited Oct. 9-to-13, 1992 for the inaguration of the Lighthouse.
The Popemobile located outside of the Faro a Colón. Pope John Paul II rode in it when he visited Oct. 9-to-13, 1992 for the inaguration of the Lighthouse.

The ceremony was even attended by Pope John Paul II. The Popes Pope-Mobile can be seen parked outside of the entrance to the Faro.

Isabel la Católica statue at the Faro a Colón
Isabel la Católica statue at the Faro a Colón

The Entrance

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.

Many different nations falgs line the walkway entrance to the Faro a Colón / Columbus Lighthouse
Many different nations falgs line the walkway entrance to the Faro a Colón / Columbus Lighthouse

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.

Christopher Columbus, Coat of Arms / Cristóbal Colón, Escudo de Armas
Christopher Columbus, Coat of Arms / Cristóbal Colón, Escudo de Armas

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
gules.


 

The bust of President Joaquin Balaguer Ricardo at the entrance to the Faro a Colón
The bust of President Joaquin Balaguer Ricardo at the entrance to the Faro a Colón

Climbing the stairs to the front gate there is a bust of President Joaquin Balaguer watching over all who enter.

Looking in the side entrance of the Faro a Colón
Looking in the side entrance of the Faro a Colón

The museum and chapel inside and it also is 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 Faro a Colón / Columbus Lighthouse reflected in the rain water filled reflecting pool.
The Faro a Colón / Columbus Lighthouse reflected in the rain water filled reflecting pool.

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.


 

Columbus remains guarded by 2 lions inside the Columbus Lighthouse.
Columbus remains guarded by 2 lions inside the Columbus Lighthouse.

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 entrance walk and stairs to the Faro a Colón
The entrance walk and stairs to the Faro a Colón

Columbus Remains

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
Faro a Colon – Indiana.edu
and
Columbus Remains Found In Spain – CBSNews


 

The Faro a Colón with a beautifully lit sky.
The Faro a Colón with a beautifully lit sky.

Hours-Location

The lighthouse was remodeled in August 2008 and most recently in 2018. The streets have been repaved, the interior has been cleaned and bad floors replaced. New lighting has been installed.

Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 5pm (there is a small admission fee) Phone – 809-591-1492

Directions: Ave. Mirador del Este, Santo Domingo Este. It is about a 30 minute walk from Plaza España in the Colonial Zone.


 

Casa del Tostado

Casa del Tostado / House of Tostado

The Casa del Tostado is one of the earliest homes constructed in the New World city of Santo Domingo. It has unique features and also there are some interesting legends about this 15th century home.

The Casa del Tostado with the flags of Dominican Republic
The Casa del Tostado with the flags of Dominican Republic

About the Casa del Tostado | Casa del Tostado Legends | El Museo de la Familia Dominicano / The Museum of the Dominican Family | Location

The Casa Francisco de Tostado

The Casa Francisco de Tostado home was built in the 15th century. This is one of the earliest constructions on the island. This historical Tostado came to the island with Nicholas de Ovando in 1502 making him one of the earliest settlers on the island. He was a writer and father of famous writer Francisco Tostado de la Peña. Francisco was the first person born on the island to become a university professor. He was killed by cannon fire of Pirate Francis Drake in 1586.

The famous, one of a kind window of Casa del Tostado.
The famous, one of a kind window of Casa del Tostado.

The Tostado house is famous for its double window Elizabethan Gothic facade with Moorish influences, one of the most unique windows in all the world.

The interior patio of Casa del Tostado
The interior patio of Casa del Tostado

This historical home ran all the way down to the sea covering an entire city block. The construction of the house is said to be one of a kind.

Inside the rooms are large and spacious and quite lavish. Inside the house there were large gardens and parks. There are exquisite archways located throughout the house. On the top floor tower there is a great view of the sea. The patio is lovely and it is said at one time there was even an orchard inside the walls.

Casa de Tostado has been home to many famous inhabitants of the island. First the Tostado family, including Francisco Rodríguez Franco. At one time it was Archbishop’s Palace. It is now the home of El Museo de la Familia Dominicano / The Museum of the Dominican Family.

Casa del Tostado as seen from Plaza Bartolome de las Casas in the early morning.
Casa del Tostado as seen from Plaza Bartolome de las Casas in the early morning.

Casa del Tostado Legends

There are a few different versions of tragic love stories that are said to have occurred in this famous house. Here are two of them.

One romantic and tragic legend is from the nineteenth century. The father of a beautiful girl was blamed for the tragic death of his daughter.

His daughter had a boyfriend who was a part of the invading army marching in the street below her window. When she saw him marching by she ran to the street to greet her man. Her father went into a rage. He was so angry that he killed his daughters’ boyfriend with his sword.

The distraught girl ran to her lover who was lying on the ground. She held him as he breathed his last breath. Desperate and in pain she ran to the well in the yard and dived in. Falling to the bottom and ending her life.

Another version of the story told to me was that the wealthy owner of the home had many African saves. The daughter fell in love with one of these handsome slaves.

The lovers were secretly meeting on the patio while the father was out. When the father returned to the home unexpectedly the slave went down into the well to hide. He was holding onto the edge of the well waiting for the father to leave. After some time the daughter got her father to leave the patio area.

Finally, when her father left the house, the daughter returned to the patio to see the man she secretly loved and let him know that her father was gone again. She called for him but could not find him anywhere. As a last resort she looked into the well.

It seems that her lover could no longer hold onto the side of the well while waiting for the father to leave the patio. He lost his grip and fell into the well drowning in the water below.

The daughter was so distraught. She went to the top of the tower and threw herself off. She died on the street below.

El Museo de la Familia Dominicano / The Museum of the Dominican Family

Museo de la Familia Dominicano era dress on the Night of Museums.
Museo de la Familia Dominicano era dress on the Night of Museums.

The Dominican Republic took over the Tostado House in 1970. The government restored the building and it was opened to the public on August 15, 1973. It was made into a historical monument and now is the home of El Museo de la Familia Dominicano / The Museum of the Dominican Family.

This museum holds many historical documents of the Dominican national heritage showcasing the culture and customs of the Dominican people.

There is an impressive collection of 19th-and 20th-century Victorian wicker and mahogany furniture. Included in the collection are many impressive paintings, drawings, photographs, books and objects of personal use. Some of the works of art in the collection include some of the more important artists of the time.

Museo de la Familia Dominicano men era dress on the Night of Museums.
Museo de la Familia Dominicano men era dress on the Night of Museums.

Inside the home one of the original courtyards still exist. It is a beautiful green tranquil spot where you can sit and reflect. In the center of the patio sits an old well. Make sure to go up the stairs to the tower. You will have a spectacular view of the Colonial Zone.

Could these be the same well and tower that the legends spoke of?

Casa del Tostado corner of Padre Billini and Merino in the Colonial Zone.
Casa del Tostado corner of Padre Billini and Merino in the Colonial Zone.

Hours: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday thru Saturday. Closed Sundays
Cost: $100 pesos for general public (2008).
Contact: 809-689-5000

Casa del Tostado corner of Calle Padre Billini and Arzobispo Meriño
Casa del Tostado corner of Calle Padre Billini and Arzobispo Meriño

Location

The corner of Calle Padre Billini and Arzobispo Meriño just beyond the Cathedral of Santo Domingo.

Casa de los Medallones

Casa de los Medallones / House of Medallions

also known as Casa de la Moneda / House of Currencies and El Museo Numismático Dominicano / The Numismatic Museum Dominicano

This historical house is believed to date from the first half of the sixteenth century. Its building coincided with the completion of the Cathedral around 1540.

Casa de los Medallones
Casa de los Medallones

It is named House of Medallions because of the five medallions with the human faces inside. There is one face above each pillar and the other three are centered above the doorway. The center face, an adolescent face with a hairstyle of that period, is thought to be the face of King Carlos the Fifth. Some say the other faces are the Kings faces also depicting different his different ages.

Casa de los Medallones faces above door
Casa de los Medallones faces above door

The homes original inhabitants are unknown. It is thought to have been the home of some rich government employee.

The story goes that this building is where silver coins were minted. This is not true. There was another building in front of this house where coins were minted. That building was demolished long ago.

Casa de los Medallones was restored in 1972 and is home to El Museo Numismático Dominicano / The Numismatic Museum Dominicano.

The street where this historical home is located is now called Arz. Meriño. The original street name was Calle Los Piateros translated as Silversmith’s Street.

Location:

Arzobispo Meriño #358 between Calle Mercedes and Emiliano Tejera. The house is across from the City Council parking lot.