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Dominican Republic

Main attractions

Los Haitises, Dominican Republic
Los Haitises limestone hills from the sea / Anton Bielousov, / CC BY-SA 3.0

Dominican Republic is rich both with man made and natural landmarks. The highlights are:

  • Santo Domingo with its historical buildings - the oldest continuously inhabited European city in Americas with some of the few true Late Gothic buildings in this part of the world.
  • Petroglyphs and sacrifice caves - thousands of drawings, etchings and bas-reliefs created by Taíno people and lesser known earlier cultures.
  • Finds of amber and larimar - some of the richest and most interesting finds of fossil resin in the world, as well as the only find of the amazing blue stone - larimar.

Natural landmarks

Caves, sinkholes, petroglyph caves

Pictograph in Pomier Caves, Dominican Republic
Pictograph in Pomier Cave No.2 / Espeleogrupo, / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Cueva de las Maravillas - San Pedro de Macorís. Approximately 0.8 km long caves with numerous stalactites and stalagmites. Some 500 ancient dravings by Taíno.
  • Cueva de Tibisi - Samana. Giant, collapsed cave - natural arch, leading to a sinkhole.
  • Fun Fun Cave (La Cueva del Diablo) - Hato Mayor. Longest cave in Dominican Republic, more than 7 km long. Spectacular cave formations, prehistoric petroglyphs.
  • José Maria Cave - La Altagracia. Cave with more than 1200 Taíno charcoal paintings. One panel supposedly depicts the terms of the agreement between Spaniards and Taíno in 1503.
  • Los Tres Ojos - Santo Domingo Este. Partly collapsed limestone cave, show cave. Contains three lakes - one contains sulphurous water, another - saltwater and the largest - freshwater.
  • Manantial de la Aleta - La Altagracia. Cave with several small holes in the ceiling - almost sinkhole, 89 m deep. Contains 73 m deep pool. In the centre is 39 m high heap of rubble, which contains numerous artefacts left by sacrifice rituals of Taíno. Found many whole vessels, many have very interesting ornamentation.
  • Padre Nuestro Caves - La Altagracia. Group of four underwater caves - sinkholes with stalactites and stalagmites - which formed when caves were above the water. Human remains and stone artefacts have been found next to the bones of extinct animals (e.g. skull of monkey Antillothrix bernensis, sloths Acratocnus and Parocnus). Cueca de Chicho provided rich collection of whole Taíno vessels.
  • Pomier Caves - San Cristóbal. Series of 55 caves containing the largest collection of ancient rock art in Caribbean, created 2,000 years ago by Taíno, Carib, Igneri people. Approximately 6,000 charcoal drawings and etchings.
  • Raul de Monteclaro - Sánchez Ramírez. Cave with 61 petroglyphs and two bas-relief sculptures. Petroglyphs supposedly are up to 5,000 years old.
  • San Gabriel Cave and two other caves in Los Haitises - Samana and Sabana de la Mar. The limestone caves at the sea here are adorned with prehistoric petroglyphs and pictographs. Supposedly created by Taíno people and, presumably, older cultures.
Salto Jimenoa Dos, Dominican Republic
Salto Jimenoa Dos / Treeman, / public domain

Waterfalls

  • Aguas Blancas near Jarabacoa - La Vega. 87 m tall waterfall, reportedly the tallest in Dominican Republic.
  • Baiguate Falls near Jarabacoa - La Vega. Approximately 61 m tall waterfall.
  • Salto Jimenoa Uno and Salto Jimenoa Dos near Jarabacoa - La Vega. Spectacular, 60 and 40 m tall falls.
  • Salto Limon - Samaná. Gorgeous waterfall which falls over tufa formations. 52 m tall.

Gemstone finds

  • Palo Quemado blue amber mines - Santiago. The richest finds of the fluorescent Dominican blue amber, which changes its color according to lighting conditions. Dominican amber (but not the blue one) is found also in many other mines in three regions - La Cordillera Septentrional, Bayaguana and Sabana de la Mer.
  • Los Chupaderos - Baoruco. The best find of decorative, blue colored, translucent concretions of a variety of pectolite - larimar.

Other natural landmarks

  • Lago de Oviedo - Pedernales. Hypersaline lake with unusual green-yellow water, caused by limestone particles. Saltwater enters from the ocean through caves. Numerous rare animals and plants.
  • Los Haitises - Samana, Sabana de la Mar And Monte Plata. Interesting karst region, covered with tropical forest. Consists of hundreds of conical, 200 - 300 m tall, steep hills. Numerous caves, underground rivers, rare species of animals and plants.

Man made landmarks

Historical cities

Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo / Patrick Flament, / public domain
  • La Isabela - Puerto Plata. The first European settlement in Americas (besides the Viking settlements), founded by Columbus in 1493 and abandoned in 1496, when Columbus established Santo Domingo.
  • Puerto Plata, La Zona Colonial - Puerto Plata. Beautiful city centre, where some 150 houses are built in Victorian style. Developed since 1857, although the city is much older.
  • Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo - Distrito Nacional. The oldest continuously inhabited European city in Americas, settled since 1496, city established in 1498. Partly preserved the defensive walls and the original grid pattern. Contains many valuable and ornate buildings in late Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque styles.

Churches

  • Basilica of La Altagracia - La Altagracia. Church with unusual, modern architecture, built in 1970.
  • Catedral de Santa María la Menor (Catedral de Santa Mariá de la Encarnación Primada de America) - Distrito Nacional. The oldest cathedral in Americas, built in 1512 - 1540 in Gothic and Renaissance styles. Altar is chiseled of silver. Contains collection of valuable art.

Other man made landmarks

Las Caritas cliff and Lake Enriquillo, Dominican Republic
Las Caritas cliff and Lake Enriquillo / Piet de Somere, / public domain
  • Amber Museum on Calle Duarte 61 - Puerto Plata. One of the best collections of amber in the world, with unique specimens.
  • Alcázar de Colón - Distrito Nacional. The oldest European palace in Americas, built in 1510 - 1512 in Renaissance style. Residence of the Viceroy of the Indies. Site of important historical events, contains rich collection of furniture and artworks of period, now - museum.
  • El Faro, Puerto Plata - Puerto Plata. Cast-iron lighthouse, built in 1879. This 42 h tall lighthouse has very unusual architecture.
  • Engombe Sugar Mill - San Cristóbal. Ruins of old, horse-powered sugar mill, supposedly built in 1535 in Renaissance style.
  • Fortaleza Ozama - Distrito Nacional. The oldest European fortification in Americas, built in 1502 - 1505 by the Spanish. Representative of late Medieval architecture. Served as a prison until the 1960s.
  • Las Caritas - Independencia. Group of Taíno petroglyphs in a cliff which overlooks Lake Enriquillo. Site of legends.
  • Monasterio de San Francisco - Distrito Nacional. The first European monastery in Americas, built around 1508 by Franciscans. Now in ruins.
  • Monumento de Santiago - Santiago. Impressive marble monument, built in 1944, 67 m tall.
  • Museo de las Casas Reales - Distrito Nacional. Palace, former administrative offices of the Spanish colonies in the Americas, built in 1511. Consists of two buildings - one is Palace of Governors, another - Roal Audiencia of Santo Domingo. Now serves as museum of history.
  • National Palace - Distrito Nacional. Magnificent government building in Neo-Classical style, built in 1944 and used mostly for higher ranked officials, government meetings and representation purposes.
  • National Pantheon - Distrito Nacional. Jesuit church, built in 1714 - 1746 in Neo-Classic style. Now serves as the final resting place of outstanding citizens of Dominican Republic.

List of described attractions by provinces

Dominican Republic is divided into 31 provinces:

Azua
Baoruco
Barahona
Dajabón
Distrito Nacional
Duarte
Elías Piña
El Seibo
Espaillat
Hato Mayor
Hermanas Mirabal
Independencia
La Altagracia
La Romana
La Vega
María Trinidad Sánchez
Monseñor Nouel
Monte Cristi
Monte Plata
Pedernales
Peravia
Puerto Plata
Samaná
Sánchez Ramírez
San Cristóbal
San José de Ocoa
San Juan
San Pedro de Macorís
Santiago
ArrowPalo Quemado blue amber mineGemstone finds
Santiago Rodríguez
Santo Domingo
Valverde
Sud

Map of Dominican Republic

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