Facts About The Colonial City Of Santo Domingo That You Didn't Know | Kidadl


Facts About The Colonial City Of Santo Domingo That You Didn't Know

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Located on the east bank of the Ozama River, Santo Domingo is a wonderful city!

This city was the first one to be established in the New World. This is why it is regarded by many as the 'Cradle of Civilization in the New Word.'

Santo Domingo, the colonial city of the Dominican Republic, is one of the oldest cities in the New World. Christopher Columbus founded it in 1492. Santo Domingo is also home to the first cathedral and castle in the Americas. The colonial city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it's easy to see why! If you are planning a trip to Santo Domingo, there are many exciting facts that make it a fascinating place to visit.

Discovery And History

Christopher Columbus discovered the site wherein the city of Santo Domingo would later develop in 1492. Back then, the entire area was inhabited by the Taino people. Shortly afterward, in 1496, Spanish settlers started arriving in the place and eventually created the first settlement in the New World.

The settlement was named Nueva Isabela by Bartholomew Columbus. However, he later changed the name to Santo Domingo. Saint Dominic inspired the name, and it was only in 1498 that Santo Domingo officially became the first European settlement in either Americas. This was also when all the infrastructure started developing on the small island. At the time of its naming as Hispaniola, the area also contained parts of what we now know as the Republic of Haiti. However, the two areas have now separated.

In the early 16th century, a tremendous hurricane wiped out the city, but it was eventually rebuilt on the east band of the Ozama River. This was done by Nicolas de Ovando, the governor at the time. This settlement would become an important site for expeditions to the West Indies and the Caribbean Hinterland. All expeditions started in this colonial town, and it quickly became the capital for the Spaniards.

However, Santo Domingo was not to enjoy this status for long as the Spanish conquered Peru and Mexico shortly afterward. The people of Britain also took charge of this old city for a while between 1586 and 1655. They were drawn out of Santo Domingo by the inhabitants. Between the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the French also took control of the city. It was not until 1844 that Santo Domingo was declared the capital of the Dominican Republic. Since then, it has been the seat for Dominican Republic's economic, social and cultural practices.

Cultural Heritage

Since Santo Domingo was the first city to be established in either Americas, it is highly regarded for its culture. The city's architectural elements only reveal a very small part of the larger picture, which is how each of the colonizers has left their mark on the people of this city and the people of the Dominican Republic at large.

Before the Spanish entered the island, what we now know as the Dominican Republic was inhabited by the Taino people. Throughout the years, their culture has been influenced by the Spanish, British, French, and Haitians, but the Taino culture is still alive in Santo Domingo to a large extent. Descendants of the Taino people still live in some parts of Santo Domingo.

Apart from this, descendants of the Spaniards also continue to influence the cultural geography of the island at large.

Basilica Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor is located in Santo Domingo!

Archaeological Facts About Colonial City Of Santo Domingo

The Basilica Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor was the first cathedral to be built in the New World, and it stands in Santo Domingo to the present day. This cathedral is very important and a historical site that must be visited.

The National Library is also located in this city, and its architectural beauty is breathtaking. There are other private libraries as well, which are also sure to amuse you with their architectural style and the sheer volume of books that they hold.

Apart from this, one of the city's primary and most readily viewed archaeological elements is the housing style and the city planning itself. The Grand Place Plaza Mayor's checker-board style planning significantly influenced how towns were planned in the New World in the coming years.

Site Statistics

Santo Domingo has an area of 1069.5 sq mi (2770 sq km). The first monastery of either Americas was also built in Santo Domingo. It is called Monasterio de San Francisco.

Other historical sites include the Basilica Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor, the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, and Columbus Park.


Q: What is the colonial city of Santo Domingo?

A: The colonial city of Santo Domingo is a colonial town that has retained much of its social and cultural heritage over the centuries of its existence. The city now serves as a very important center for the economic and social structures of the present-day Dominican Republic.

However, the main charm of Santo Domingo lies in the fact that it is regarded by many as the 'Cradle of Civilization in the New World.' This is because Santo Domingo was the first city to be established in the Americas and hence had the first cathedral, first university, first castle, monastery, and other such important structures in the New World.

Q: How many historic sites are in Santo Domingo colonial city?

A: The Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo is a culmination of all the great historical sites and is one of the main places to visit when in the city. There are many buildings in this old city, which show its cultural influences. The buildings made in the Spanish period have a gothic style which gives character to the entire city. The first cathedral of the two Americas was built in Santo Domingo and has stood the test of time.

After Spanish, French, and European settlements in the area, it is natural that this old city would be one with a lot of cultural heritage - which is easy to see through a simple walk down any of the streets of Santo Domingo. Some of the historical sites would include the Fortaleza Ozama, the oldest fortress in all Americas, the Museo de las Casas Reales, and the Plaza de Espana.

Q: Is Santo Domingo the oldest city in America?

A: Santo Domingo is the oldest city in both Americas and was primarily established by the Spanish people who settled in the area after Christopher Columbus' discovery. Upon discovering the place wherein the Taino people originally lived, Bartholomew Columbus named it Nueva Isabela, which was later renamed Santo Domingo after Saint Dominic.

Tourism in the city reveals many historical places that still hold a part of the city's colonial history. Being the first city to be established in the New World, it is natural that Santo Domingo has many cultural and social influences.

Q: What language do they speak in Santo Domingo?

A: The Spanish people were first to settle in Santo Domingo, and their linguistic influence has stayed in this old colonial city. The primary language of the people of Santo Domingo continues to be Spanish, although people are capable of speaking in other languages as well. This, combined with the Spanish Gothic-style buildings, reveals that the Spanish influence over the city has remained in place even though other powerful parts of the world, such as France, have colonized the area.

Q: When did Santo Domingo become a part of the World Heritage Site?

A: Since it is the site for the earliest settlement in the New World and has so many historical relics, UNESCO declared the colonial city of Santo Domingo a World Heritage site in 1990. Since then, tourism has boomed in the area, and more and more people have expressed their appreciation of the unmatched cultural integrity of the infrastructure. While some of the city's old buildings are about to be ruined, conservation efforts have helped sustain others through renovations and other such strategies. It is safe to say that the colonial city of Santo Domingo is sure to remain a place of historical importance for decades to come.

Written By
Shirin Biswas

<p>With a degree in English from Amity University, Noida, Shirin has won awards for oratory, acting, and creative writing. She has a wealth of experience as an English teacher, editor, and writer, having previously worked at Quizzy and Big Books Publishing. Her expertise lies in editing study guides for children and creating engaging content.</p>

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