A Travellerspoint blog

Gloria's Charity Santo Domingo City Tour

Exploring the Colonial Zone


View Summer, 9-11-2001 - and then the 2nd time down the ICW & AFV Winter 2006 & Bermuda on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

10 January 2006

We said we wanted to do the city tour the next day, which was advertised as $45 each. The next morning Gloria came to see us at breakfast and said that the other couples who wanted the tour had backed out, and what did we want to do about that. I said that I still wanted to go on the tour, so she said she would take us in the car that we had come from the airport in. She wanted $50 each to be paid in cash.

We started out for the city about 10:30. First the driver took us to the Columbus Lighthouse Monument (Faro a Colon).(Faro is the Spanish for lighthouse). It is 668 feet tall built as a memorial to Columbus (Cristoforo Colón in Spanish).
Distance view

Distance view


The building was begun in the 1930s and was finished about 1992.
Brickwork

Brickwork


Weeds or flowers?

Weeds or flowers?


The huge building, designed by the British architect J.L. Gleave, is shaped like a cross, its wings stepped back with increasing height like a pyramid.
large_acc240d0-db27-11e9-9b83-a36174df47e5.jpg
Disappointingly, this is not a real lighthouse. There is no navigational beacon in the usual sense but the most outstanding and unique feature (and the reason that it is called a lighthouse) is the lighting system composed of 149 searchlights and a 70-kilowatt beam that circles out for nearly 44 miles. When illuminated, the lights project a gigantic cross in the sky that can be seen as far away as Puerto Rico. Gloria said it had not been lighted in some time.

I did not realize it but, in the heart of the structure is a chapel containing the Columbus tomb, and, some say, his mortal remains, so I just took some pictures of the outside.
Closeup

Closeup


The "bones" of Columbus were moved here from the Cathedral of Santa María la Menor. (Other locations, including the Cathedral of Seville, also claim to possess the explorer's remains.) Gloria explained that the body interred in Columbus' tomb which was supposed to be Columbus had been sent to Spain for DNA testing to see who it actually was
large_13.jpg
The fountains in the grounds were not operating.
Non-working fountain

Non-working fountain

Isabel looking out over Santo Domingo

Isabel looking out over Santo Domingo


I also to photos of the statue of Queen Isabella (Isabel La Catolica) which is across the street looking over the city.
large_038BBD690BB8C00C34DB9ED5EEB810DD.jpg
The driver accompanied me - not sure whether he was protecting me or waiting to rescue me if I fell.

Gloria skipped Los Tres Ojoes (a 50-yard open-air limestone cave located in the Mirador del Este park which was listed on the tour brochure) and the aquarium which she said we could walk to--- very close she said
large_03C214EFA2E54EE7C0674445BA84AD9D.jpg

I was disappointed to find that Faro a Colon was not a real lighthouse. Whether by accident or on purpose we went by and into the Base Naval 27 de Febrero
Sentry and statue at Naval Academy entrance

Sentry and statue at Naval Academy entrance

Naval Academy Entrance from street thru windshield

Naval Academy Entrance from street thru windshield


Docks

Docks


Ships on the Navy base

Ships on the Navy base


and the Naval Academy of DR
Lighthouse sign on the base by the O-Club

Lighthouse sign on the base by the O-Club


and from there we saw a real lighthouse which was a square concrete structure with spiral yellow and blue stripes. It is part of an area called Sans Souci in Santo Domingo East.I was only able to find a couple of photos of this lighthouse (I was looking in order to find out what the heck it was). According to the Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society (ARLHS) World List of Lights in addition to the Punta Torrecilla light, the Dominican Republic has nine other lighthouses
large_03C2AB840219D139CA4732C06DB81D18.jpg
Punta Torrecilla Lighthouse - Tower Height: 125 ft.
Zoomed in on the lighthouse

Zoomed in on the lighthouse


Height of Focal Plane: 135 Ft.
Characteristic and Range: White light; 2 seconds on, 2 seconds off, 2 seconds on, 4 seconds off; Range: 13 nautical miles.This light is operational Date Established: 1853 Date Present Tower Built: 1986 Current Use: Active aid to navigation. I don't think it can be visited.

We went along the city wall
City walls

City walls


(We passed a place where there was a large generator on a barge next to the city electrical plant.) into the Zona Colonial, and Gloria stopped where there was a movie called "The Good Shepherd" which was being filmed with Robert DeNiro and Angelina Jolie. She was hoping to get a look at the male stars. Bob got some pictures of the 50's cars lined up for the movie
03C3A35EBAF3FE15786D93453C7A260E.jpg
large_38.jpg
and I took photos of signs and people.

03E242F201AC0696F856967A2AB2E9D1.jpg03E1BFD9F2F3C7E4005604F062F7270D.jpgWindow

Window

Art for sale

Art for sale


There are often vendors on tricycles peddling various items - typically coconuts or drinks.
large_04076462C7BD587BC39DC01AE157F528.jpgAnother trike

Another trike


We got out on the pedestrian street though the middle of the old city which was still decorated for Xmas. The pedestrian-only Calle El Conde connects the Parque Colon from the east with the Parque Independencia to the west. This is an enjoyable mile-long stroll, as there is no traffic down this street.

Gloria bought a lottery ticket.
Lottery tickets for sale

Lottery tickets for sale


Balconies above the street

Balconies above the street


large_46.jpgBricks in the sidewalk

Bricks in the sidewalk


large_2564709-City_Tour_Santo_Domingo.jpg
Gloria is build like me only younger, darker and shorter.
Bob taking a photo and Gloria

Bob taking a photo and Gloria


Bob's photo of me

Bob's photo of me


We saw a statue of someone who looked like a native (West Indian), but it was either Don Bartolome Colon or Frey Nicolas de Ovando according to the inscription which I couldn't really read, and which Gloria couldn't translate very well.

large_51.jpg

Columbus is BIG in Santo Domingo. The most famous plaza in the Zona Colonial is a square named in his honor
Columbus Square

Columbus Square


on the north side of the Catedral de Santa Maria la Menor (Plaza de Colón), which has a large bronze statue honoring the discoverer, made in 1882 by a French sculptor. The statue of Columbus was near the cathedral in Columbus Park.
Columbus Square

Columbus Square


The square surrounded by historical colonial and Victorian-style buildings. The town hall, dating from the 19th century, faces the west side of the plaza and on the north end, is the Amber Museum. There is also a tourist office, post office, tobacco emporium, and an assortment of restaurants and shops. Lots of pigeons, and they are building a Hard Rock on one side of the square.
0475D857B79173720067CC7E459DDDB8.jpgPigeons in front of Columbus

Pigeons in front of Columbus

Gloria handed us over to a guide to look at the Cathedral Basilica Santa Maria la Menor, which Pope Paul III pronounced to be the first cathedral in the New World in 1542. I take that to mean that it was the first building designated as a Cathedral and not the first church building.
large_61.jpg
I was interested to see that there was netting over the top of the entrances, probably to keep out the pigeons.
Cathedral entrance with pigeon netting

Cathedral entrance with pigeon netting


She sat outside and gossiped while we did the tour.

Bob was wearing Bermuda shorts - down to his knees - and no one said anything about this, although I understand that shorts are not allowed. The guide said that the inside was Gothic and with Romanesque arches and Baroque ornamentation. He said that the inside vaulting represented palm trees (they did look a little bit like that).
Palm Tree-like arches inside the church

Palm Tree-like arches inside the church

In the middle of his talk, they added another family - apparently the guides are assigned by language. That threw him off a little so he finished us up and started on the next group. We slipped away and walked around the cathedral a bit looking at some of the 14 side chapels.
Side alter

Side alter

Gate

Gate


Scooter parked alongside the wall

Scooter parked alongside the wall


I took a picture of a pigeon that sitting over the pulpit
large_55.jpg
(apparently bypassed the netting) and a statue of a priest with a box with a slot in the top marked Seminario - I presume for people to donate money.
045E702AE9636B3D4CF583FAA64B4ABD.jpg

We went back out to Columbus Park and walked across and down to Calle Las Damas and to see the Changing of the Guard in the Iglesia de los Padres Jesuitas y Panteon Naciona mausoleum which occurs at noon every day.
Red carpet from entrance

Red carpet from entrance


This is the National Pantheon (The name translated to English means "A Church run by the Jesuit Fathers and National Pantheon") which was built in the early 1700s (some say as early as 1714, some say it was in use in 1747, and others say it was not finished until 1755) as a Jesuit church by Geronimo Quezada y Garçon . Later it was used as a tobacco warehouse, housing for the San Fernando seminar, public offices and and a theater for the independence fighters of 1860. The Spanish architect Javier Borroso adapted the building for the former dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina in the mid 50s. (Some sites say 1955, some say 1956 and some say 1958.) The floor is made of Dominican marble. It was originally Trujillo's intention to be buried here.
large_4932.jpg
Now it is used to honor Santo Domingo heroes such as Gregorio Billini, Gregorio Luperón, Don Eugenio Maria de Hostos - a Puerto Rican who is revered by the Dominicans for organizing the educational system in their country, General Pedro Santana, the five-time president of the republic and others. It has a large bronze chandelier - a gift from Franco.
large_4933.jpg
I sat down on the steps facing the guard. The central nave is the widest and is covered by a vaulted ceiling covered with a mural. I asked Gloria what the murals above us represented, but she didn't give a terribly satisfactory explanation.
Fresco at the end of the former church

Fresco at the end of the former church


According to websites, they are a fresco inspired by the Death and Resurrection.
Guard changing

Guard changing


I tried to take a short movie with my video camera of the changing ceremony which involved a lot of rifle maneuvers, but someone walked over and stood in front of me..

We came out and saw the church next to the palace, and there was a big sundial there. I walked over to the fort walls (with cannons) and looked out over the street below and the river (Ozama?) beyond that. There was a ferry terminal there, and on the other side was a small marina with mostly power boats.
large_4948.jpg
Windows

Windows

Texture of the wall

Texture of the wall


After that we went to another museum which I think was the Casa Reales.
4951.jpg
4952.jpg

They had models of Columbus's three ships, maps of his journeys,
Bob looking at a map

Bob looking at a map


a pharmacological section
Old Medical Book

Old Medical Book

Old glass bottles

Old glass bottles

Copper kettle

Copper kettle


including a big cabinet with drawers labeled and painted with a picture of the plant (There was one for cannabis),
large_4966.jpg
a stables area with saddles
Pink saddle

Pink saddle

Leather saddle

Leather saddle


and sedan chairs,
Sedan chair

Sedan chair


an exhibit on sugar cane,
Suit of armor

Suit of armor


armor, a border marker from between Haiti and the DR,
One of the original markers between the French and the Spanish territories

One of the original markers between the French and the Spanish territories


and navigation instruments on display. The guide asked for a tip at the end, which I understand he isn't supposed to do and Bob gave him $1.00.
Spiral tower

Spiral tower


Gloria asked us if we wanted to shop, and I said no, so we got back into the car and drove to a restaurant called El Conusco. Egarrido explained to me that the word "conuco" is a Taino word (original inhabitants of the island) and it means "small piece of land used for farming or family plot."
5003.jpg
Gloria said this is where all the tours go for lunch.
People sitting outside the restaurant

People sitting outside the restaurant

Part of the restaurant

Part of the restaurant


It is well set up for large groups of people and has a buffet of national foods for people to eat. They had spaghetti and yams and chicken plus various salads. The price was included in the tour price. Both Gloria and the driver ate a lot - more than we did.
My plate of food

My plate of food


They also did a show here where they danced, including standing on top of a bottle and dancing.

large_4992.jpg
I think that the performers/waitresses or waiters would dance with the guests too (although not on the bottle).
There was a place labeled "La Purperia dia Pueblo" next to the entrance which had souvenirs etc inside, and Gloria said it was the model of a country house.
La Purperio del Pueblo

La Purperio del Pueblo


Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw

Display

Display


Cart covered with flowers

Cart covered with flowers


It was decorated with flowers, as was a horse buggy out front.
Horse and cart outside

Horse and cart outside


I went to the bathroom
Selfie in the bathroom

Selfie in the bathroom


which was pretty reasonable, except there was no toilet seat - or rather there was one on one side which had broken off the toilet.
4980.jpg
I noticed that cars had cardboard on the windshields and Gloria said that this was to protect from the sun. The cars parked on the street were watched by folks who put the cardboard there for you to keep the sun out. You are supposed to tip them when you come back to the car.

After we ate, we went to the National Palace where we got out to take pictures.
Soldiers at the gate

Soldiers at the gate


A jeep full of men in camo came up and parked and one of them got out and went to the gate guards and was let in.
5012.jpg
I thought they might open the gates for the jeep, but they didn't. I stuck the camera through the fence for an unobstructed picture.
Taking a photo through the fence

Taking a photo through the fence


I understand the palace is now government offices.

We did not get to see the Amber Museum or the Monasterio ruins or the homes of Columbus's sons, nor did we really see the Santo Domingo Fort.

We went back to the hotel on an expressway which went over 2 bridges,
Scaffolding on the bridge beside us

Scaffolding on the bridge beside us


one of which is under construction and has scaffolding all over it. In the middle of the highway is a concrete barrier about 4 feet high, and there was a woman walking along on top of it.
large_5019.jpg
The driver and Gloria both said she was crazy. We got back to the hotel about 2:15 Bob tipped the driver $10 to make up for yesterday.

Bob said the experience reinforced the idea that he was not going to rent a car here. Some of the traffic lights don't work, and the ones that do are apparently disregarded as often as not. Stop signs (Pare) are ignored half the time. The only real reason that people don't speed are the many fairly aggressive speed bumps.

Tomorrow we will try to walk to the Aquarium

Tips

Posted by greatgrandmaR 01:26 Archived in Dominican Republic Tagged cathedral santo_domingo columbus changing_of_the_guard casa_reales la_purperia_dia_pueblo

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.

Login