Santo Domingo: City of Firsts




Greetings from Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic! This is the very first city set up by Europeans in the Americas. When Christopher Columbus “sailed the ocean blue” in 1492, he landed here on this island. He set up a colony here over 100 years before the Pilgrims!

Today, I went on a walking tour of the city, and saw many firsts. Many of these places were recommended by my students, who researched this city last week, when we were learning to use a guide book. For example, Bella suggested checking out the ruins of the first hospital built by Europeans in the new world:

Bella Hospital

I did go there today! It was really fun to explore. It no longer looks like a hospital, and there’s even a bee hive on the side, but it’s still pretty neat to see:

Kadyn recommended that I see the Puerta del Conde, which I also checked out!Puerta del CondeHere’s me in front of it:Puerta del Conde

This monument is like the gate at the end of a long street. Once I got here, I found out that “the Conde” is what people say to describe the Calle El Conde, which is the main road in the Zona Colonial, or Old City. The Conde is really beautiful, a walking street with lots of shops, restaurants, etc.

The Conde

The Conde

There are lots of shops that sell art, among other things.

Art on the Conde

Speaking of shopping, Jidelys recommended that I check out the local department stores:

Mercado ModeloIt’s always interesting to see what the locals buy, and what the non-tourist prices are like. It seemed like a nice polo shirt was going for about US$10, which is pretty affordable. One of the most fascinating things that I saw at the department store was a women’s undergarment with padding to make a woman’s behind look bigger. I don’t think that many women in the U.S. would buy something like this, but apparently there’s a market for it down here!

BehindHere in the Zona Colonial, there’s an interesting mix of old and new. There’s fast food, souvenir shops, and ice cream, but there are also so many other firsts, like the first church, first library, and first monastery made by Europeans in the new world. Matt W. had recommended that last one, which has a unique history, apparently.

Monasterio de San FranciscoSuccess! All the firsts!

What will the second day in the Dominican Republic bring?

Categories: Caribbean

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