Dominican Republic Day 1: A Late Afternoon Walk In The Santo Domingo Zona Colonial
The Billini Hotel , where I am staying my first three nights here in the Dominican Republic is located in the middle of the historic Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo, the first European city in the Western Hemisphere. After a quick check in at my hotel late Wednesday afternoon , which included a delicious non-alcoholic mojito, I unpacked my luggage and was soon out exploring the cobblestone streets of the old city.
I had only briefly studied the maps of the city and the Zona Colonial Zone prior to my trip. However, I knew I wanted to see the oldest standing church in the New World, Catedral Primada de America, ( There is dispute here since a cathedral in Mexico City was built while this was under construction, but it was destroyed). So I set out to find the Cathedral. Leaving my hotel I turned right onto Calle Padre Billini and headed toward the Ozama River. It didn’t take me long to discover there is history everywhere in the Zona Colonial . I soon walked past some old Dominican church buildings ,including Capilla de la Tercera Orden Dominica.
There seemed to be statutes to some Dominican hero,
I walked on the narrow cobblestone street, with an even narrower sidewalk, observing the local residents as they ended their day. I also enjoyed inspecting the the businesses and residences on the street.
I turned left on Calle Isabel La Catolica where unknowingly, I walked past the Cathedral I was looking for.
I walked onto Columbus Park which,
despite the late hour and threatening skies still had a lot of activity going on. Folks were eating, chatting and listening to the music provided by local musicians. Children played with the large flocks of pigeons.
Across from the square was the imposing Catedral primada de America
It was closed but I walked around the building and thought about it’s long history. Parts of it were destroyed when Sir Francis Drake invaded the island in the 1580’s.
After walking around the church I left the park and followed the main pedestrian street Calle el Conde. This street is closed to traffic and has many shops restaurants and other businesses in the surrounding old buildings.
I walked past some of the shops,
observing the products they sold, which were many, including a lot of cigars.
There were some flowers in bloom but not a lot of different varieties. . Most were these pretty flowers found in front of many shops and restaurants along the street.
I followed the street for a block and then turned left onto another historic street Calle Las Damas. Many historic building are located here including the Panteon de la Patria. It was after 5 p.m. and it and the other museums were already closed for the day.
I walked to the wall that surrounds the Zona Colonial built to protect the city 500 years ago.
I next made my way to the expansive Plaza de Espana.
The storm clouds in the distance became more threatening,
and it started to get dark so I made my way back to the hotel.
The lights were on at Columbus Park,
and on the old cobblestone streets. I enjoyed the approaching darkness. I imagined walking in the footsteps of Columbus, Cortez or Ponce de Leon all of whom lived here and roamed these same streets. It was a reflective, and much needed walk. It was so good to be back on the road again, exploring this beautiful world we live in.
I returned to the hotel and had hoped to watch the Full Moon rise from the rooftop restaurant. Unfortunately Mother Nature had other plans and a violent tropical thunderstorm brought torrential rains to the old town. I enjoyed the storm, and a nice meal of pumpkin soap and mahi mahi as I watched the rain fall on the open patio. It was a long day, but a good one. I slept well for the first time in a long while. I love travel and exploring our beautiful planet, And I already started to love Santo Domingo. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my evening walk. Dominican Republic Day 1 evening walk October 20 2021.
“There’s something about arriving in new cities, wandering empty streets with no destination. I will never lose the love for the arriving, but I’m born to leave.”