Calle Las Damas/ Street of the Ladies is the oldest street in the Americas. It is a beautiful street lined with historical buildings from the original settlement of Santo Domingo.
Calle Las Damas
was originally named Calle de la Fortaleza/ The street of Strength or Fortress when it was created in 1502 during the reign of Nicolás de Ovando. The street has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The arrival of Admiral and Viceroy Diego Columbus and his wife doña María de Toledo brought a little class to this new city. María de Toledo was the great niece of the King of Spain, King Ferdinand. Many of the high society of Spain and the ladies “of culture” took up residence on Calle de la Fortaleza. The name was changed later to Calle las Damas, named for the Ladies-in-Waiting that strolled up and down its north to south running length.
A Street of Many Names
During its history the street had many names, most of the names came about because of a name of a building built along its path. In 1659 the name was changed to Calle Colón in honor of Cristóbal Colón. The other names for this street were Calle del Gobierno, Calle del Palacio, Calle de la Capitanía General and Calle del Convento de Los Jesuitas. Finally, the street returned to its original historical name, Calle las Damas. The name remains to this day.
Visit Calle Las Damas
Strolling down Calle las Damas makes for a nice walk. From The Stairs of Las Damas / Escaleras de las Damas to Casa Reales at the Plaza Reloj de Sol / Sun Dial there are many Colonial Monuments to see. Not much traffic passes on the stone path. You will be surrounded by beautifully restored buildings on both sides of the street. While walking you can almost feel like you are among the privileged people from times past that used to take their afternoon stroll along this historical street of the colony. It is a must visit here in the Colonial City.
Calle las Damas runs North and South from Plaza Reloj de Sol at Casa Reales to the Malecon (Av. George Washington) ending with the long and hidden Stairs of Las Damas/ Escaleras de las Damas (The stairs, built in the 1930’s, connect the Malecon to Calle las Damas at Plaza / Park Pellerano Castro.
Calle el Conde is the oldest commercial street in the city of Santo Domingo de Guzmán. It runs directly through the center of Colonial Zone from Puerta Independencia (Puerta del Conde) to the Escaleras del Conde that end at the Malecon at Rio Ozama.
This pedestrian only street is named after the Count of Peñalva, Bernardo de Meneses y Bracamonte, the captain general of Santo Domingo. Some of the manes this historical street has been called include Calle de la Separación, Clavijo, Imperial, 27 de Febrero and Real.
El Conde runs through the center of the colonial city. It is very easy to navigate your way around the city from this street, finding your way around the Zone quite easily.
This is a very busy thoroughfare and was closed to traffic many years ago. It is 11 block cobblestone street is lined with stores, restaurants, hotels, homes and a variety of businesses, some open and others closed. There are all types of humans to see and some friendly street dogs also.
There are people everywhere. Some selling their wares in the street and inside the many shops. Others are shopping or just taking a stroll.
It is one of the most popular shopping areas for Dominicans and tourists alike. Sit on one of the benches or open air cafes along Conde Street and watch the people passing by. You may even see a street performer or some impromptu activity from some passerby that you will remember forever.
Calle el Conde runs from the Puerta del Conde (Parque Independencia) at its farthest west point continuing on to Calle las Damas, the Escaleras del Conde and on to the Malecon at its eastern end.
Barahona is a province located in the southwestern coast of the Dominican Republic. The capital is Santa Cruz de Barahona. The people are friendly and down to earth and the scenery is spectacular. This area has not been touch with the tourism frenzy. It is a paradise only seen by few tourists and well worth the visit.
Here there are dry deserts and lush forests. There are fresh, clear mountain streams and wild and beautiful beaches. The land can be flat and dry and also mountainous and green. The coastal highway 44 (also called Enriquillo) has a spectacular view and leads to the beaches past the town of Barahona.
Most of the beaches in this area do not have sandy beaches. They consist of small pebbles, which are unique to the area. It is spectacular to see the beautiful turquoise blue waters in contrast with the green lush colors of the mountains. It is also interesting to note the small piles of white beach rocks people collect to sell to the landscapers.
Caribe Tours bus – It takes about 3 ½ hours by to get there from Santo Domingo.
Barahona Airport if you would like to fly into the area
Guaguas – These are the large vans-small busses that run along the highway. They pass by about every 20 minutes and make stops along the way as you wish. They can seem confusing at first especially if you do not speak Spanish. Just write down the name of the place you want to go and have them take you there. Get the hotel your staying in to write the questions for you, as most of the larger hotels employees will speak enough to help you out. Ask when they will return past again so you can get back to the town (have then write it down).
Motoconchos – (around town about 25 pesos) The motorcycles you see everywhere on the streets. Just look a bit dumbfounded and usually one will stop to see if you want a ride. These are fun to get around as you can really see lots of the area and stop as you desire. A very reliable and honest motor driver is Ruddi (809-353-3901). He loves showing people around. His English is very poor but he can understand more than he can speak.
Taxis – They are always around the streets.
Your own feet – Get out and walk around. Stop and talk to people even if you cannot speak the language. This is the best way to really know the area, the culture and the wonderful people of the country.
Playa San Rafael
/ San Rafael Beach- The bay as you drive along the highway is a spectacular sight. When you drive down to the beach area where the river enters the sea there are both natural and artificial swimming holes. Locals enjoy this area and also there are small stands that sell cold drinks and fresh fish.
(The Ducks)- The town is small and the friendly townspeople all know each other. Here there is a pretty white-stone beach with rugged waves that is great for small shell collecting. The best place to hang is where the river meets the sea is a shallow swimming hole where the locals like to refresh themselves and even take a cool bath. I found it interesting to watch the little fish enjoying the fresh water swimming along with the locals. There are many little restaurants to sit and enjoy a drink and some fresh fish including Dorado, Colorado, and local catches.
Beach and Town (quemar means “to burn”)- A small town off the beaten path with a large and popular pebble, sand and gravel warm water beach and refreshing river on the other side of the highway. If you look close enough you can pick up small water worn pieces of larimar on the beach. It is 10 kilometers from the city of Barahona along the Barahona-Paraiso highway. There are a few stands where one can buy a cold drink and some food. The small town has a few little shops, typical Dominican restaurants and even boasts a small pool hall.
– A small village that is just what its name says, Paradise. There are 2 rivers Nizaito y Sito which, depending on the season, the waters change colors. In May the sky seems to change colors as the butterflies arrive brightly colored wings crossing the plain.
*Hotel Piratas del Caribe
*Rancho Don Cesar
– A typical small town with about 21million inhabitants. The sea is in the front and the rich green jungle is behind the town. There are a few small beaches in the area that are very tranquil. There is a nice little watering hole along the main highway where there is a man made pool to collect the river water. It is very clean and refreshing.
Festivals: Patron Saint Ana celebrated from the 18 to 26 of July
– Barahona is the biggest city in the southwest, a larger small town with all the normal things found in any Dominican Town of its size. There are banks and restaurants both small and large. It is a very active and friendly town centrally located near to much of the eco tourism areas of the southwest. There is a mix of both typical wooden houses with tin roofs and modern homes as well. The main streets are very bustling while the side roads can be quite calm.
Barahona has a large port dominated by the large sugar mill. Here the sugar and molasses is loaded on ships for their journey to other parts. There is also the sugar train that runs with its load of sugar cane collected from the farms along its route. You can see one of the old steam locomotives not far from the mill area.
Stuff to do
The Barahona Market – Here is a shopping conglomerate where one can find just about anything at very reasonable prices. It takes up a block or more of the street and a few alleyways also.
The Malecon – The usual seaside road where there are all types of restaurants and nightspots. There is usually music blaring from all these spots and people enjoying a drink, talking, eating or some dancing.
The Central Park – Lots of small bars, restaurants and places to eat outside. A good time in the evenings.
Virgen del Rosairo – October 7
Hotels: Loro Tuerto (translated One-eyed Parrot)
This small hotel is big on service and friendliness. The rooms are simple, comfortable and clean. They have cable tv, air conditioning, 24 hour electric and hot water. It is located in the southwest town of Baharona on the main street. It is about 1 and 1/2 blocks from the bus station and within walking distance to the park. There is a nice patio where you can sit and unwind from an active day in town or at the beautiful local beaches. The staff is very friendly and helpful and speak English, French and Spanish.
The casual dining cafe on site serves a nice little variety of dishes and is decorated with lots of interesting items.
Rooms start at $1300 pesos per day. No credit cards accepted. WiFi hot spot.
Polo Magnético/ Magnetic Pole – Where the secondary road forks between the town of Barahona and the community of Cabral. Park your motor vehicle in neutral gear on the lower part of the hill and it ignores the force of gravity and moves upwards by itself.
Aguas Termales en Canoa/ The thermal waters at Canoa – Usually visited by French and Japanese tourists for some years now everyone now is discovering this unique spot. The strong scented sulfur waters are bluish in color and can reach up to 42° Celsius. People who enjoy the curing and relaxing properties of these waters visit it.