Destination: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
The Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo’s, the first true and permanent city in the New World, is a magnificent place to visit. The monumental churches, colonial houses, museums and other places of historical interest combined with the many cozy terraces and abundance of excellent restaurants; ensure your stay will turn out to be an amazing experience.
It is interesting to know that Santo Domingo’s present name and location originally were quite different. Columbus founded the first European city in the American continent, near the present city of Puerto Plata. He named the city "La Isabela" in honor of Queen Isabella of Castile. Because the location of La Isabela turned out to be unfavorable for further expansion, Bartholomew Columbus, brother of Christopher, established a new city, La Nueva Isabela, on the south coast of the island, on the left side of the Ozama River. A hurricane destroyed the city in 1502. A new city was built; this time on the right side of the river and was given the new name of Santo Domingo in honor of Saint Dominic. In case you like to explore the Zona Colonial by yourself, you can buy a map at “Mapas Gaar” on Espaillat, which is open for business from Monday thru Friday 8:30am tot 5:30pm. Of course you can opt to follow the beaten path of some famous guidebook, like Lonely Planet. I prefer a more personal touch and decide to approach one of the many guides that offer their services in the Zona Colonial. These guides offer customized tours, based on your interests and accompany you on your journey. You can recognize the official guides by their badges. This is how, while visiting the formal residence of Diego Colon and his wife Doña Maria de Toledo, now serving as the Museo Alcazár de Colon, I come in contact with Lorenzo, a passionate historian who talks with love and conviction about his city. I ask Lorenzo to be my guide for the afternoon and, as always, agree on a price beforehand in order to avoid unpleasant surprises. Together with the Lorenzo, I walk almost 4 hours through the colonial center, passing all churches and other “highlights” of the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo. Lorenzo clearly is a serious person who enjoys giving a very detailed explanation of all the sites to those who want to know. Given my travel objectives, he was just the perfect guide for me!
Lorenzo R. Bidó Nacional Tourist Guide Lorenzo speaks French, German, Spanish and English C/3ra. No7-B, km7 Carretera Sánchez, Bo. San José Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Tel: 809 816 4089 / 809 457 8419