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Iglesia – Fuerte Santa Barbara

Iglesia y El Fuerte de Santa Bárbara / Church and Fort of Santa Barbara

Iglesia de Santa Bárbara / Church of Santa Barbara

Iglesia y Fuerte de Santa Bárbara

This is one of the oldest churches with a fort built in the colonial period and is a UNESCO World Historical Site. The church and fort were built separately. The church was constructed in 1537 and the fort came later.

The church is a single long building with five distinct sections, as can be seen from the outside of the building. The original church building was made of royal palm. Later, in 1537, it was rebuilt in stone. The blocks were quarried from this very site as were the stone blocks for many monuments and buildings of the era.

Church and Fort Santa Bárbara

The building has been damaged many times throughout its history. Both the Fuerte and Iglesia were heavily damaged by a hurricane in 1591. Then earthquakes in 1673 and 1684 did extensive damage to the Iglesia. The Pirate Francis Drake did severe damage to the church when he invaded the island in 1586. Each time the church was repaired something new was added to the structure. It is interesting to note that the ceiling of this historical monument is still covered with the original bricks.

Juan Pablo Duarte was baptised in the Iglesia Santa Bárbara

The Iglesia Santa Barbara boasts to be the place where Juan Pablo Duarte, The Father of the Nation, was baptized on February 14, 1813.

El Fuerte de Santa Bárbara / Fort of Santa Barbara

Fuerte de Santa Bárbara shooting platform

The Fort of Santa Barbara is the only fort with a church inside. The church was built first and later when the fort was built both structures were incorporated together. This is a very unique thing to have a fort and church entwined. The bunker for the fort is attached to the church.

The city of Santo Domingo was a walled city but the north section of the city did not have walls built until 1686. Building the fort in this furthest section of the city was an important step in the fortification of the city.

Fuerte de Santa Bárbara shooting platform cannons

This fort was part of the third stage of protection for the city. Construction began in the early 1540’s and the final phase was completed in the early 1700’s. It was designed by an Italian builder and a Spanish stone cutter. The fort and church, as with most of the Spanish settlement, was build by slave labor by African and the Indigenous island dwellers.

The end of the 17th century brought constant attacks to the all the Antilles Islands. This fort was a bunker facing the mouth of the river Ozama thus giving it an excellent view of the entry port. It was a very strategic location for the strength of the city of Santo Domingo.

Santa Barbara Today

Santa Barbara street art

The barrio of Santa Barbara where the fort and church are located is a good place to visit. It is a typical barrio has a very typical small town feel. There is some great art work and graffiti covering the walls of many of the buildings. Many of these buildings are in need of repair and are abandoned but the art work on many of these buildings in incredible.

Iglesia y Fuerte de Santa Bárbara side wall held up with bars

The church is in disrepair. There are metal bars holding up the outside wall. It has been under renovation for many years and still the work is not completed.

The view from high atop Fuerte de Santa Bárbara shooting platform

If you visit Santa Barbara make sure to climb up the ramp to the top of the shooting wall of the Fuerte Santa Barbara. The wall is lined with cannons. The catwalk along the wall is usually grown up with weeds and the side towards the river is blocked off. There is a very nice view of the and the Rio Ozama from the top of the fort wall.


: From Calle el Conde go south up Calle Isabel la Católica or Calle Arzobispo Meriño (both of these streets lead to this monument). Walk about 6 blocks almost to Av. Mella at the far end of the walled city, Colonial Zone.

Contact -809-682-3307

Sun Dial

Sun Dial/ Reloj de Sol

The historical sun dial, Reloj de Sol, is another of our UNESCO World Heritage sites. It was erected during the reign of Carlos III in 1753 and is one of the oldest sun dials in all the Americas.

The Reloj de Sol in the morning light

The sun dial was used as the official time-teller in Santo Domingo. The face of the dial could be seen from the government offices in the Casas Reales. This way the government officials were able to record the correct time on official documents.

The faces of the Reloj de Sol

The dial sits in the center of the Plaza Reloj de Sol. It sits atop a large stone pillar. There are two vertical dials or faces and a equatorial dial on top. The Southeast face is for the morning time to be seen and the Southwest side is for the afternoon hours. The large metal plate with its raised parts show the hours by the shaded markings.

On the very top of the pillar is the newer equatorial dial that was placed there in 1992. The original dial was lost during a hurricane.

Plaza Reloj de Sol, the sun dial and Casa Reales.


: Calle Las Damas in the small Plaza Reloj de Sol in front of the Casa Reales.

Colonial Culverts

Alcantarilla Colonial/ Colonial Culverts

Buried beneath the colonial city is a very important historical sight. The first hydraulic sewage system from the Colonial period. These culverts are one of the firsts of the Americas. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Construction of the first culvert began in 1502. It was named la Alcantarilla de Ovando/ The Ovando Culvert. This was the works for the entire southern part of the city. The construction was very crude and all the waste dropped directly into the river.

Alcantarilla Colonial
Alcantarilla Colonial

Building the second part of this system started in combination with the construction of the Atarazanas (Shipyards) in 1509. This second underground line was named la Alcantarilla de Atarazanas. The second culvert was a bit more advanced in its construction. This new line was built to move sewage, mainly animal debris, and did not drop into the river like the first line did.

Tunnel discovered under Calle Isabel la Católica

The culverts are constructed of brick and stone. There are a series of archways that, as the construction progressed, became more sophisticated. The changes in the way the tunnels were constructed are very noticeable.

Most of these UNESCO Historical Site tunnels have long ago collapsed or been destroyed because of city construction. There are a few that still remain intact. When they were doing the Colonial Zone renovation in 2014 some of these tunnels were discovered under the streets of the city. They were explored and conserved before they replaced the streets that cover these historical sites.

Entrance to the culverts on Calle Isabel la Catolica

See a slide show if the Alcantarilla Colonial.


One of these tunnels has been kept up so people can see and walk through a small section. The entrance to this culvert underground tunnel is located outside of the Museo del Ron y la Caña. It is on Isabel la Católica street turning north from Colon Park. You need to ask inside the Museum about visiting the site.