Tag Archives: sights

Columbus Palace

Palacio Virreinal Alcázar de Colón / Columbus Royal Palace

The Palacio Virreinal Alcázar de Colón (Colón is the Spanish word for Columbus), short name is Alcazar de Colon. In English it is known as The Columbus Palace. This beautiful historical monument and UNESCO World Heritage site is a 22 room stone home built by Christopher Columbus son, Don Diego Colón and his wife María de Toledo.

1. Alcázar de Colón 2. Museo Alcázar de Colón 3. Maria de Toledo Statue 4. Directions

Alcázar de Colón

The Palacio Virreinal Alcazar de Colon and the Puerta San Diego as seen from the Malecon entering the Colonial City.
The Palacio Virreinal Alcazar de Colon and the Puerta San Diego as seen from the Malecon entering the Colonial City.

Diego and Maria Toledo resided in this 50 room Viceregal palace, during Diego’s term as viceroy. It has beautiful gardens, large balconies and amazing courtyards. This fortress was built during the early 1500s to be the seat of the viceroy court.

Diego and his wife, Maria de Toledo, lived here until 1523 when he was recalled to Spain. Other relatives lived here for decades afterward.

This building was abandoned in 1770 and turned into a garbage dump. Cave-ins in 1809 and 1835 left the building in ruins.

The Palacio Virreinal Alcazar de Colon in ruins 1910
The Palacio Virreinal Alcazar de Colon in ruins 1910

The building was restored by highly skilled stone cutters under orders of President Trujillo. There were some added refinements made during several later restorations. The size is much smaller than the original building. All rebuilding was done to remain as faithful as possible to the original construction and decor. Not one single nail was used in its construction. It opened to the public on Columbus Day in 1957.

The Alcazar Colón in the Colonial Zone seen from the cat walk over top of the Puerta Don Diego.
The Alcazar Colón seen from the cat walk over top of the Puerta Don Diego.

The palace sits in a large open square, Plaza de Armas or Plaza de España. There are always some interesting activities happening in this beautiful plaza and if there are no activities it is still a nice place to sit in one of the benches located around the edge of the plaza.

The Alcazar looks beautiful at night with the lights shining on the stone-coral building. The Palacio Virreinal is a must-see by those who want to learn about Santo Domingo’s historical beginnings.

The front porch of the Palace
The front porch of the Palace

Museum of the Royal Houses / Museo Alcazar de Colón

Inside the Museum of Alcazar Colón
Inside the Museum of Alcazar Colón

Located inside the Alcazar is a museum that is home to an extensive collection of furniture and household items from the colonial period all arranged to look as if it is being lived in to this day.

Inside the museum
Inside the museum

On display in the mansion is furniture, many clothing items and home utensils from the era, all supplied by the Spanish government. The furnishings are not the original household furnishings. Since the building was in ruins for many centuries it was ransacked and all the furnishings taken or destroyed.

Suit of Armor in the museum Alcazar de Colón
Suit of Armor in the museum

The museum is open to the public Tuesday to Saturday 9AM – 5PM and Sundays from 9AM to 4PM
General admission is RD$50 (6/2012)

Maria de Toledo Statue

The statue of Maria de Toledo on the side of the Alcazar
The statue of Maria de Toledo on the side of the Alcazar

It is also important to note that in the side yard is a statue of Maria de Toledo, the niece of the King of Spain and wife of Diego Colón, the son of Christopher Colón.

Maria was the first person of noble lineage to come to the Spanish island in 1509. She was the great-niece of the Catholic Monarchs and granddaughter of the Duke of Alba).

Maria de Toledo statue close
Maria de Toledo statue close

María de Toledo was a gracious host and loved having parties and visitors to her home. The statue of her seems to be inviting guests to her home.

*Note- Mid-2017 the statue was moved to the Plaza Maria de Toledo between Isabel la Católica and Calle las Damas.

Alcazar de Colon in the morning.
Alcazar de Colon in the morning.

Directions

Calle Las Damas at Plaza España. Walking west on Calle el Conde go almost to the end at Calle Las Damas. Turn left and continue walking about 1 1/2 blocks straight ahead. The street will turn into a pedestrian only plaza. Keep walking and you will see the giant palace in the distance. You cannot miss it.

Colonial Zone Google Map

Colonial Zone Map

A Google map of the Colonial Zone sights, museums, monuments, parks, plazas and other points of interest.

Our map of Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo / Mapa de la Zona Colonial de Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic / República Dominicana. It is a work in progress map of all the monuments and sights in the oldest city in all the Americas.

Make sure to view the map as large as possible so all the icons are not jumbled since there are so many sights in such a small area. Click the icon and a little pop up box will appear. This window will tell you what is in that spot and have a link to the page in the Colonial Zone web site for more detailed information.

Ruins of the San Francisco Monastery

Ruinas del Monasterio de San Francisco / Ruins of the San Francisco Monastery and the Capilla de la Tercera Orden Franciscana / Chapel of the Franciscan Third Order

Sitting atop a hill, looming, surrounded by an iron fence sits almost 2 blocks of buildings in ruins and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Ruinas del Monasterio de San Francisco / Ruins of the San Francisco Monastery are a very humbling sight to behold. Looking both majestic and eerie. It’s menacing, eerie feeling is multiplied when you walk close and see the holes in the land surrounding the building. Some say that these were to hold prisoners. While others say they are places where excavations were done.

Ruinas del  Monasterio de San Francisco in The Colonial Zone in the early morning
Ruinas del Monasterio de San Francisco in the early morning

First Monastery |La Casa del Diablo |Capilla de la Tercera Orden Franciscana |Location |

Ruinas del  Monasterio de San Francisco deep well holes in the property
Ruinas del Monasterio de San Francisco deep well holes in the property

There is also a deep well on site covered by a grate.

In the past the inhabitants were lunatics and friars, now the sole inhabitants of the building are the pigeons and ghosts. The cooing of the birds, or maybe it be the moaning from the people of the past, add to the eerie feel of the place.

In the evening the ruins seem to heighten in magnitude and mysteriousness. The lights shining on these abandoned and falling stone walls give it an immense forlorn and desolate feeling. Make sure when you visit you sit on the steps and take in the feeling of the place. If only these lonely bricks could tell their story.

Ruinas del  Monasterio de San Francisco in the 1930's
Ruinas del Monasterio de San Francisco in the 1930’s

The First Monastery

The most important ruins of the Americas held the first monastery in the Americas. The building was started by Nicolás de Ovando in 1509 and was completed in 1560. Built on a hill overlooking the city it was, and is, a true marvel. It was divided into three parts, the Convento/ Convent, the Chapel (Capilla de la Tercera Orden de los Franciscano, the Capilla de Garay also known as the Chapel of Maria de Toledo, Diego Colons’ wife), and San Francisco el Viejo.

Cordón de la Orden Franciscana and bust of Padre Billini
Cordón de la Orden Franciscana and bust of Padre Billini

Over the largest part of the doorway of the monastery is the Cordón de la Orden Franciscana, the coat of arms of the order, carved into the stone surrounding the arched doorway. There is a cross and a bust of Padre Billini. It was built on the outside in Renaissance style and the inside in Gothic.

Looking inside the Ruinas del  Monasterio de San Francisco you can see some of the older chapels
Looking inside the Ruinas del Monasterio de San Francisco you can see some of the older chapels

La Casa del Diablo

At one time this place was used as a military fort and named La Casa del Diablo/ The house of the Devil It has also been called El basurero del Monasterio/ The Garbage Can of the Monastery. In 1881, Francisco Billini changed the building into a lunatic asylum. If you look on the inside there are still remnants of chains bolted to the walls where they tied the crazies.

The Plaza inside the Ruinas del  Monasterio de San Francisco
The Plaza inside the Ruinas del Monasterio de San Francisco

It was taken by the Pirate Francis Drake (for more information on Drake) during his very destructive raids on the city in 1586. Nature also attacked the monastery with two devastating earthquakes in 1673 and 1751.

It is also said to be where Bartholomew Columbus is buried, but this is not certain.

At times there are special events held here. There may be a concert or school group doing something. It is a favorite spot for taking wedding pictures. On Sundays the area is packed full of people all gathering with friends and family to see a free concert and do some dancing.

Ruinas del  Monasterio de San Francisco front gate
Ruinas del Monasterio de San Francisco front gate

Capilla de la Tercera Orden Franciscana / Chapel of the Franciscan Third Order

Capilla de la Tercera Orden Franciscana inside the Ruinas del  Monasterio de San Francisco
Capilla de la Tercera Orden Franciscana inside the Ruinas del Monasterio de San Francisco

The beautiful facade of this chapel is located in the Ruins of the Monasterio de San Francisco. It was part of the many phases of building within the walls of the monastery. It was built to join with the Capilla de Garay and the Capilla María de Toledo. All that remains today is the front of the chapel and the interior arches with a small remnant of the beautiful vaulted roof that was destroyed in a hurricane is 1930.

A rainbow over the Ruinas del Monasterio de San Francisco
A rainbow over the Ruinas del Monasterio de San Francisco

Location

From Calle el Conde turn north on Calle Hostos. Go up the hill about 5 blocks. You can also go on Calle Restauracion, Duarte and Juan Isidro Perez (it takes up almost 2 city blocks)