Possibly the most vibrant place in the entire Caribbean, the cosmopolitan city of Santo Domingo is possibly the most popular. Rich in culture and history, the historic Colonial City is certainly moving forward, but it is taking its history with it. It features modern hotels situated on ancient cobble-stoned streets, where luxury cars share the roads with horse-drawn carriages. New age cuisine sits side-by-side with classic dishes and modern luxurious buildings rest beside centuries-old traditional houses.
The oldest city in the New World, Santo Domingo is home to the first street, cathedral, university and hospital in the Americas. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1990, Santo Domingo’s ancient city has been well preserved to ensure visitors feel like they’ve been transported back to another time.
Selected as the 2010 American Capital of Culture, the public was invited to select from 27 cultural sites to feature as the seven treasures of cultural heritage in Santo Domingo. By unanimous vote, the Columbus Palace, the first Cathedral in the New World the Ozama Fort, the Museum of the Royal Houses, the National Botanical Gardens, the Caribbean seaside boardwalk called the Malecón and the Palace of Fine Arts were the overall winners.
For tourists, there is plenty on offer in Santo Domingo. The Colonial City features numerous new and old buildings surrounding the Alcázar de Colón, the oldest Viceregal residence in the Americas. Columbus Park is in the center of the city’s ancient quarter. It is an “urban living room” where everyone goes to enjoy its tree-lined streets where beautiful buildings date back several centuries.
Home to the greatest number of museums in the Caribbean, Santo Domingo has the Museum of Dominican Man, the Museum of Modern Art, the Columbus’ Lighthouse, the Amber Museum, the Larimar Museum and the Rum Museum.
With free trade agreements in place with the United States and Europe, Santo Domingo features numerous popular shopping malls, including the Plaza Central, Acrópolis, Megacentro, Mercado Modelo, Calle El Conde, Bella Vista Mall, Avenida Duarte, Plaza Lama, Americana Departamentos, Centro Cuesta Nacional, Jumbo, Sema, Multicentro Churchill, and IKEA.
Grand parks with impressive views and surroundings are plotted in and around Santo Domingo. The National Botanical Gardens boasts a collection of native flora. The local Zoo features wild animals that can move freely along its trailers.
Finally, Santo Domingo has a thriving nightlife scene, with an array of discos, bars, cafe’s and modern meeting points. There is something for every musical taste here, including the Spanish Square, Columbus Park, Gustavo Mejía Ricart, the House of Theatre, Bohemian Nights and Jet Set. For traditional music, an abundance of concert halls are regularly played by famous musicians in Latin America and Europe.