Monthly Archives: March 2015

The oldest city in the Americas: Santo Domingo

Actually it’s been two months since I left Asia and arrived in Central America. Very intense time indeed, lots of places visited, people met, photos taken. While changing planes in Brussels, I accidentally bumped into my former colleagues from Unit R1 who were going on an audit mission. Talk about coincidences! But it was a fascinating moment, to suddenly imagine how it would feel to be back, and of course to get an update of all the interesting developments.

Right now I am in Costa Rica. However my trip around Central America started in the Dominican Republic. I took a flight from Brussels to Santo Domingo, the little-visited capital. Which happens to be the oldest city in the Americas. Columbus himself was a governor, as were his brother and his son Diego. This is where the Spanish conquest of the Americas was planned and executed: the expeditions to Mexico, Central America and further South all started here. Due to the wind pattern in the Atlantic Santo Domingo was an obligatory stop for sailing ships both on the way from Europe and on the way back. Santo Domingo lost its importance after Sir Francis Drake, at the time a British-sponsored pirate, took it and looted it thoroughly in 1583. The centre of gravity of the Spanish Americas moved irreversibly towards the continent.

Yes, by the way, if you ever wondered where the name of the Dominican Republic comes from – very easy! The Republic is named after the capital city, and the capital city takes its name from the Catholic saint – and the founder of the monastic order which used to be rather powerful here.

The Columbus park is the heart of the colonial town – Zona Colonial, as it’s known here.

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