Tag Archives: Taino

Nicolás Ovando

Frey Nicolás Ovando


Frey Nicolás Ovando y Cáceres was born into a rich family in Spain.
In 1502 he become the third Governor and Captain-General of the Indies. There were too many complaints about then Governor Francisco de Bobadilla. Ovando replaced Bobadilla and served as the Governor of Hispaniola between 1502 and 1509.

When Ovando arrived to take over his appointed post as governor of Santo Domingo he brought with him over 30,000 colonists to populate the island.

Frey Nicolás Ovando y Cáceres

Ovando was a conquistador. In a very short time he exploited and enslaved the islands indigenous peoples. He exterminating entire towns (Slaughter of Jaragua and Higüey), conquering and enslaving the native people. He forced the natives to work in homes and to plant crops, including the introduction of sugar cane. He used them to mine for gold. They were used as slaves on the ships that returned to Spain.

Ovandos type of governing was the model of the great conquering of Spain in the new world. He commissioned expeditions of discovery and conquest throughout the Caribbean, all from his offices here in Hispaniola. He founded 17 villages and cities on the island. He instituted the first town halls.

Under Ovandos rule the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo became very rich. The wealth cost the lives of almost all of the original native inhabitants of the island.


One of first terrible acts Ovando committed when he became Governor was to order the arrest of Anacaona. Anacaona was a Taíno queen. Ovando had his army search for and find her. While searching for her the army massacred many of the indigenous peoples. Anacaona was executed by hanging. After her death many of the natives fled their island home.

Statue of Anacaona in Parque Colon

A statue of Anacona can be seen in Parque Colón climbing up the side of the Columbus statue.

Frey Nicolas de Ovando statue in Plaza España

Return To Spain

King Ferdinand V made the brutal Ovando return to Spain in 1509. He was ordered to return because of his brutal treatment of the native people. Diego Columbus was then appointed as Ovandos successor as governor.

Ovando returned to Spain a rich man. He was permitted to keep all the property and riches he acquired while exploiting the island and its native people.

Home of Ovando on Calle las Damas

Remembering Ovando

The very large and elaborate home of Ovando is located on Calle las Damas and is now elaborate Hostal Nicolás de Ovando.

There is a huge bronze statue in the center of Plaza España honoring the 3rd Governor of Santo Domingo. In the stone pedestal on which the statue stands are the inscriptions “Comendador Mayor de la Orden de Alcántara” / “Supreme commander of the Order of Alcantara” and “Fundador de la Nueva Ciudad de Santo Domingo” / “Founder of the New City of Santo Domingo”.

The outline of the bronze statue of Fray Nicolás Ovando in Plaza Espana

Some of Ovandos accomplishments

*The appointment of Fray Nicolas de Ovando as governor of Santo Domingo was instrumental in the construction of the historical and tourist center today known as Colonial Zone. He gave it the charm and charisma it still has to this day.

*The governor built in the Ciudad Primada/ First City streets and buildings, such as the Convento de San Francisco/ Convent of San Francisco, Hospital de San Nicolás/ St. Nicholas Hospital, la Casa de La Moneda/ Casa de La Moneda, La Torre del Homenaje/ the Tower of Homage many beautiful private homes and also many streets including Calle del Rey/ King Street, later called Calle de las Damas.

*Villa Nueva Isabela, now called Villa Duarte, was the original settlement founded by Bartolomé Colón It is located on the other side of the Rio Ozama. The settlement was hit by a major hurricane in 1502 and almost destroyed. Fray Nicolás de Ovando was responsible for moving the settlement to the west bank of the Ozama River where Zona Colonial is now located.

*The Franciscan Monks arrived in 1502 under the command of Nicolas of Ovando. They started the construction of the the first monastery in the new world in 1508. El Monasterio de San Francisco now stands in ruins.

Iglesia San Lazaro

Iglesia y Hospital de San Lazaro / Church and Hospital of San Lazaro

The church was built in 1573 to be a resource to mediate with and convert the indigenous Taino population. It fast became a hospital for persons of limited resources, in simpler terms, the poor and destitute. It served these who suffered a multitude of contagious diseases of whom most were lepers. There were 20 beds.

Iglesia San Lazaro

In 1650 the hospital was run by Jerónimo de Alcocer. In 1743 the hospital had 20 beds and was divided into sections for the men and women. The men got two rooms and the ladies got one room.

The hospital was not a pleasant place. As the city grew it was used less because of the proximity to the colony and the diseased humans that were treated within the walls were just too close for comfort to the non-diseased persons living close by.

Iglesia San Lazaro

In Ruins

The building was ruined in the earthquake of 1751 and during the rebuilding the people gave it the name the “Chapel of the Raggedy Beggars” until it was finally rebuilt in 1759.

During the restoration of the building in 1880’s many skeletons were found. Many of them showed evidence of leprosy while others showed no traces of the disease. Many had other diseases and some had no traces of any abnormality. They were just victims of the bad practices of this notorious hospital.

Iglesia San Lazaro on Calle Santome


From Calle el Conde turn north on Santomé. Go about 2 blocks between Santiago Rodrigues and Juan Isidro Perez near Calle Restauracion in Zona Colonial

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.