Close this search box.
Close this search box.
Close this search box.
Close this search box.
Close this search box.

“Dominican Republic is, is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etcetera.”Pat Robertson

The quote says it all: essentially the Dominican Republic is rich in culture with hundreds of famous historical places you may not have heard of.

To say that the Dominican Republic has a deep and varied past would be an understatement. Its culture is a fusion of African and Taino traditions with those of Spain. Every facet of its culture, from its sound to its taste to its look, reflects this. Some of the first European settlements in the Americas can be found in the Dominican Republic. Along with its stunning beaches, this region also boasts a rich history and many fascinating historical sites that you must visit this year.

But before getting into historic sites, let’s get a brief over the Dominican Republic’s history.


Pre-Columbian History

The island of Hispaniola, where the Dominican Republic is located, was originally inhabited by the Taíno people. The Taíno were very friendly people who lived in small towns and relied on agriculture. In 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived on the island, claiming it for Spain.

Source: @artesaniachacue

Spanish Colonial Era

The Spanish colonized the island and began to convert the Taíno to Christianity forcibly. Many Taíno died of diseases brought over by the Spanish, while others succumbed to the brutal treatment meted out by their colonial masters. In 1586, France established its colony on the western side of Hispaniola. This colony would eventually become Haiti.


In 1844, Juan Pablo Duarte founded La Trinitaria, a secret society dedicated to achieving independence from Haiti. In 1868, a revolt against Haitian rule began, led by Pedro Santana. The war for independence lasted 10 years and resulted in Spain annexing Santo Domingo in 1878. In 1916, the United States occupied the country to stabilize it during political turmoil. The occupation ended in 1924. In 1966, Joaquín Balaguer became president and ruled for 12 years. During his time in office, he oversaw a period of significant economic growth.

Source: @aprendeculturadominicana

Cities and Towns Famous for Historical Places

theaters Here are some of the most famous historic cities and towns in the Dominican Republic.

1. Santo Domingo

One of the earliest European settlements in the Americas, Santo Domingo serves as the capital of the Dominican Republic. The city was established in 1496 by Christopher Columbus’s brother, Bartholomew. The city’s historic colonial district was designated a World Heritage Site in 1990. Historic sites, including the Alcázar de Colón and Museo de las Casas Reales, can all be found there.

2. La Isabela

The Dominican Republic’s northern shore is home to the little town of La Isabela. The city was one of the initial European colonies in the Americas, having been established by Christopher Columbus in 1493. Disease and invasions from the local Tano people caused the settlement to be abandoned soon after it had been established. Archaeologists have unearthed the remnants of Columbus’s encampment at La Isabela.

Source: @gavi_ing

It is located on the north coast of the country. Officially named San Felipe de Puerto Plata, Puerto Plata is the capital and the country’s third-largest city. This city serves as a major transportation hub and commercial hub. In April 1563, Sir John Hawkins sent 400 Africans and exchanged his victims for pearls, skins, sugar, and a small amount of gold from the Spanish.

Puerto Plata’s colonial zone is home to many important historical landmarks such as Fortaleza San Felipe, Catedral de San Felipe de Puerto Plata, Alcazar de Colon, and Parque Central Juan Pablo Duarte.

Source: @discoverpuertoplata

4. Higüey

Higüey is a town located in the southeastern Dominican Republic. It is considered to be the birthplace of the country’s flag because it was here that revolutionary leader Juan Pablo Duarte raised it for the first time on February 27, 1844. Higüey is also home to Basílica Menor de la Virgen de la Altagracia, considered one of Latin America’s most important pilgrimage sites.

20 Famous Historic Places in the Dominican Republic

1.  Alcázar de Colón

It is known to be one of the most iconic buildings in Santo Domingo. If you’re looking for a place where you can see history come alive, the Alcázar de Colón is your best bet. Christopher Columbus built it in the 15th century during his first stay in Santo Domingo. Since then, several presidents have lived and worked there, including Rafael Trujillo. It has also been used as a prison for political prisoners such as Joaquín Balaguer and Juan Bosch.

Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site serves as a museum and cultural center open to visitors daily from 9:30 am until 5 pm; admission costs $70 per adult or $160 per family.

2.  Catedral de Santa Maria la Menor

It is another must-see historical landmark in Santo Domingo. Construction began in 1512, making it the oldest cathedral in the Americas.

3.  Museum of the Royal Houses

It is a museum housed in two historic buildings: The Alcazar de Colon and an adjoining building once used as a royal palace by Spanish colonial governors. The museum contains several artifacts from the colonial era, as well as a library with over 20,000 books.

Due to its convenient position in the middle of the colonial city, the Museum of the Royal Houses is a popular tourist stop in Santo Domingo.

While it was originally called Palacios Reales when it was constructed more than 500 years ago, the name was changed to reflect its role as the site of the first court to be established in the so-called New World when the Spanish were still establishing colonies across the Caribbean.

4.  El Faro a Colón

Source: @hvilorio

It is perhaps the most famous historical site in La Isabela. This massive structure was built in the late 20s to honor the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in America. The lighthouse stands at a whopping 502 feet tall and is visible from up to 24 miles away! El Faro a Colón is truly a sight to behold.

5.  Fortaleza San Cristóbal

Fortaleza San Cristóbal, or Saint Christopher’s Fortress, is another must-see historical site in La Isabela. Today, Fortaleza San Cristóbal is an example of 15th-century Spanish military architecture in the Americas. Visitors can explore the fortress grounds and even go inside some of the buildings that have been restored to their original glory.

6.  Tomb of Christopher Columbus

The Tomb of Christopher Columbus is located inside the Santo Domingo cathedral, just a short drive from La Isabela. This cathedral is home to many important historical artifacts, but none more so than the tomb of Christopher Columbus. The tomb was originally built in the mid 16th century but has been renovated several times. Today, visitors can pay their respects at this final resting place of one of history’s most famous explorers.

This quote by Hill Harper proves that the Dominican Republic is a perfect vacation spot.

“My favorite vacation spot is a beautiful beach. I’ve been to many, many beaches on many continents: Mombasa, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Barbados, Mexico, and the U.S. What’s beautiful about beach communities is for whatever reason, they feel like a vacation to me.”

Source: @lostmuhnkee

7.  Fortaleza San Felipe

Fortaleza San Felipe is a 16th-century fortress built to protect Puerto Plata from pirate attacks. Today, it’s one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Visitors can explore the fort’s tunnels, dungeons, and cannons and catch a glimpse of what life was like for the soldiers who once guarded this important site.

Source: @conchman1967

8.  Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Mercedes

Source: @gomezrojasjuan

It is a 19th-century cathedral considered one of the excellent representations of Gothic Revival architecture in the Caribbean. The cathedral’s exterior is decorated with intricate sculptures and stained glass windows, while its interior features a beautiful altar made of marble and mahogany.

9.  Museo del Hombre Dominicano

This museum is an excellent museum that chronicles the history and culture of the Dominican Republic. The museum’s exhibits include traditional clothing, musical instruments, pottery, and more. The Museo del Hombre Dominicano is a great tourist spot for learning about Dominican culture and history.

Source: @agneserica99

10. Basilica Catholic Church

The Basilica Catholic Church is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Higüey. It was built in honor of Our Lady of Mercy, the patron saint of the Dominican Republic. The church is beautiful inside and out, with intricate stained glass windows and a majestic altar. Visitors can also explore the Museum of Religious Art, located within the church.

11. Birthplace of Generalissimo Francisco Franco

Another famous historical site in Higüey is the birthplace of Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Franco was a Spanish dictator who ruled over Spain for 36 years. His birthplace is now a museum that houses many artifacts from his life, including his uniform and personal belongings. Visitors can also learn about Franco’s role in Spanish history through interactive exhibits.

12. San Cristobal Fortress

Source: @gerardo.escalanteh

San Cristobal Fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Dominican Republic. The San Cristobal Fortress was completed in 1586 and served as a fortress to protect Santo Domingo from pirates and other invaders. There are many legends about this place, including how Christopher Columbus discovered America after he saw lights on top of this fortress at night.

San Cristobal Fortress is right next to El Morro Castle, making it easy to visit both these sites together if you have time while visiting Santo Domingo city!

13. Samana Bay

Source: @thetopdemore

It’s no wonder that the largest bay in the Caribbean, Samana Bay, is a favorite vacation spot. It is also the site of Los Haitises National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. More than 500 animal and plant species, including numerous endemics, have been recorded in this national park.

Samana Bay offers many things to see and do for tourists who come here for vacation, including diving and snorkeling. The area has many hotels and resorts where travelers can stay during their visit.

14. Jaragua National Park

Dominican Republic's history

Jaragua National Park is a nature reserve located in the country. It’s the biggest national park in the Dominican Republic, spanning over 100 square miles. The park is home to several endangered species, including the Hispaniolan parrot and the Hispaniolan solenodon.

Jaragua National Park is also known for its large number of caves and karst formations, which can be reached by hiking through tropical rainforests or kayaking through lagoons and mangrove swamps. While you’re here, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife, such as white-tailed deer or colorful birds like toucans and crocodiles that live nearby!

15. Altos de Chavón

Source: @altosdechavondr

Altos de Chavón is a resort village located in the Dominican Republic. It is known for its architecture, which blends art deco with local Santo Dominican culture. The village boasts an arena, an outdoor museum where you can learn about the history of Dominican folklore, and a sports complex that includes tennis courts and an Olympic-sized swimming pool with water slides.

It hosts concerts and festivals throughout the year, including the Festival Internacional Folklore Olodumare held annually during Easter week, and other performances celebrating Caribbean cultures, such as parang music shows or classical ballet performances featuring traditional African dances such as yuka or macumba masks.

The venue also hosts boxing matches during fight nights held in nearby San Pedro de Macoris every weekend from December through February. All these things make this site a place to add to your bucket list.

Do you know? The Dominican people love to dance to merengue and bachata music.

16. National Pantheon

If you want to visit a unique historical place in the Dominican Republic, you should check out the National Pantheon. The National Pantheon is a mausoleum in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and it’s the final resting place of some of the most important figures in Dominican history. It was built in the 18th century and designed by Italian architect Giuseppe Poggi.

It houses 16 sarcophagi representing different periods of Dominican history, from Christopher Columbus on one side of the pantheon to Juan Pablo Duarte, founder of the La Trinitaria movement for independence on another side.

17. Museum of Dominican Man

Dominican Republic's history

The Museum of Dominican Man is located in Santo Domingo and was founded by Dominican artist Miguel Vargas. The museum is a celebration of the culture and history of the Dominican people, as well as their contributions to the world at large. With over 450 paintings on display, this museum is one that you’ll want to visit at least once during your time in the capital city.

This museum has been around for almost sixty years; its founder, Miguel Vargas, opened it as a part of a touring exhibition. The purpose of this exhibition was to present his work alongside that of other artists who had been affected by or inspired by him. Even though this modest building on Calle El Conde is a famous tourist destination within Santo Domingo, it still needs to be discovered beyond the limits of the Dominican Republic (DR) due to a lack of promotion outside the country.

18. Three Eyes National Park

Three Eyes National Park is a protected Dominican Republic area in Azua de Compostela. The park is named after a rock formation called “Las Tres Ojos” or “The Three Eyes,” located at its entrance.

Three Eyes National Park has several trails through different landscapes, including mountains and valleys. It makes it popular with hikers and nature enthusiasts looking for adventures in beautiful landscapes!

19. Fortaleza Ozama

Fortaleza Ozama is the ancientest fort in the Dominican Republic. Spanish military engineer, Juan Bautista Antonelli, built it to protect Santo Domingo from pirates. The fortress is located on a hill overlooking the city. It contains many historical attractions, including cannons and other relics from its past. . Today, it houses a museum that tells the story of the fort’s role in defending the city.

20. Plaza de la Cultura

The capital city Santo Domingo is home to a cultural hub called Plaza de la Cultura. Francisco del Rosario Sánchez, president of the Dominican Republic for six years, dreamed of the building in the late 19th century as a place for entertainment and culture. It was constructed to memorialize the country’s freedom fighters who battled against Spain.

Guests to Plaza de la Cultura can choose from a wide variety of performances, from concerts to theatrical productions, at the many galleries, theaters, and cinemas located there.

Goodbye Thoughts

The Dominican Republic is a territory with a long and complex history. From its earliest days as an indigenous Taíno village to its present status as an independent nation, the Dominican Republic has been shaped by many different cultures and influences. 

Today, visitors to the country can see evidence of its history, from the ruins of colonial-era conserved in its buildings to vibrant Afro-Dominican art and music that live in its theaters and streets.

Excited about it? Go and plan your visit to this extremely historical place right away.

Scroll to Top