The 10 Most Insta-Worthy Sites In The Heart Of Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo

If you love colorful walls, colonial architecture, and cobblestone streets, then you must explore Zona Colonial aka the Colonial Zone or Colonial City of Santo Domingo!

Santo Domingo is know as “The City of First”.  Within the 5 square kilometers of Zona Colonial is the first hospital, university, cathedral, monastery, and even the first street of the New World! Imagine that! Walking on the first street ever build in the Americas! Because of it’s historical significance, Zona Colonial has been declared a Wold Heritage Site by UNESCO.

While Santo Domingo itself has transformed into a modern city, Zona Colonial kept its charm and has a way of taking you back to the time when the city was first settled.

While exploring this city, I found some incredible places that will bring both color and history to your Instagram feed. So grab your camera and walking shoes, and let’s discover these hidden gems that lie throughout Zona Colonial.

Top Places To See In Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo

Convento De Los Dominicos

In 1538, this building became the first university in America known as Universidad de Santo Tomás de Aquino or Universidad Primada de América / First University of America.

What I loved most about the convent was the mixture of architectural styles. The Baroque facade features ceramic accents and a small rose window while the ceiling’s barrel vaults reflect a more Gothic style. These two styles combined create the perfect photo backdrop and a romanticized idea about the colonial era in Santo Domingo.
  
Address: Calle Padre Billini, Santo Domingo 10210, Dominican Republic (Calle Padre Billini and Calle Hostos)
 
Top Places To See In Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo

Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor

Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor was the first cathedral in the New World having been completed in 1540.

The first thing you’ll notice is the limestone walls that comprise the structure. These blocks defend the building against time, weather, and human destruction while adding to the building’s dominating appearance.

What I found unique about this cathedral are the many different architectural styles throughout the building. You’ll find Gothic style vaulted ceilings, Baroque ornaments, and lavish Plateresque styles. Even though these styles are very different, together they add to the building’s originality.

Fun Fact: From the time of completion, it has been used as a church, slaughterhouse, a prison, and a wine and provision storage facility used by the pirates.

You won’t find another cathedral quite like this one so don’t miss it!

Address: (at the end of) Calle Arzobispo Meriño, Santo Domingo 10210, Dominican Republic

Top Places To See In Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo

Palacio Consistorial

After exploring the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, head across the street to the Palacio Consistorial. You cannot miss this building. It is distinguished by its bleach-white facade, tall bell tower, round arches, and plant-covered balconies. If you ever lose your way in Zona Colonial, just look for this clock tower and you’ll be able to figure out where you are.

Built early in the 1500’s, it was originally the location of the old town hall and now is an art and cultural center. It also serves the need of many Instagrammers trying to get that perfect shot with a colonial building.

Address: Santo Domingo 10210, Dominican Republic (Calle El Conde and Calle Arzobispo Meriño)

Top Places To See In Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo

National Pantheon

The National Pantheon is located on Calle Las Damas, the first street in the New World!

After it’s completion in 1746, it was used as a church by the Jesuit order. However, after the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, it was used as a tobacco warehouse and then as the first Dominican theater in 1860.

It is now a mausoleum housing the remains of historical figures and honored citizens from the Dominican Republic.

The National Pantheon is quite an impressive building and a definite must see! Be sure to go either early morning or late afternoon for the best (most even) lighting.

Address: National Pantheon of the Dominican Republic, calle Las Damas, Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo 10210, Dominican Republic

Top Places To See In Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo

Museo de las Casas Reales

Museo de las Casas Reales or Museum of the Royal Houses can be found at the end of Calle Las Damas.

Built under the orders of King Ferdinand II of Aragon in 1511, it housed the main government offices of the Spanish colonies in the Americas. The Renaissance-style palace was comprised of two interconnected buildings. The first section housed the First Court of the New World, and the second section was used by the government officials such as viceroys, governors, captains, and generals.

Today it is a museum to highlight the history, life, and customs of the Spanish colony in the Dominican Republic. It showcases colonial-period objects, including treasures recovered from sunken Spanish galleons, impressive antique weaponry collection (such as samurai swords, medieval armor, and ivory-inlaid crossbows), and period furnishings.

What’s really incredible is that the building borders the original fortified walls of the city and the river Ozama, so you are able to experience the same view the Spanish officials and Royal Court had while living in this palace.

Address: Las Damas. Esq Mercedes, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Top Places To See In Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo

Hodelpa Nicolás de Ovando

During your time in Santo Domingo, I definitely recommend staying in Zona Colonial, and I have the perfect place in mind: Hodelpa Nicolás de Ovando.

Comprised of three conjoining stone houses and courtyards built in 1502, this historical building was the first to be built on the colonial lands of Santo Domingo. It was occupied by the town’s founder, Governor Nicolás de Ovando, and his family. On the first street of the New World, 16th-century estates have been transformed into a luxe boutique hotel with 104 rooms, modern amenities, a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, gym center, complimentary WIFI, and parking.

This gorgeous hotel is the perfect place to capture the essence of colonial architecture. Make sure you check out the red brick courtyard and the stunning view of the river!

Address: Calle Las Damas, Santo Domingo 10212, Dominican Republic
Top Places To See In Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo

Chapel of Our Lady of Remedies

Along the first street in the New World you will come across Chapel of Our Lady of Remedies.

This small sixteenth-century Gothic church was originally a private chapel for the prominent families of Francisco Davila and Nicolas de Ovando. It features a beautiful red brick façade, blue door, a distinctive triple-arched belfry, and a barrel-vaulted ceiling.

It’s the perfect spot to catch your breath after wandering these historical streets.

Address: Calle Las Damas, Santo Domingo 10212, Dominican Republic (northern end of the street)

Top Places To See In Santo Domingo

Monasterio de San Francisco

Monasterio de San Francisco was the first monastery in the New World!

Constructed in 1556 under the charge of Nicolás de Ovando, the monastery belonged to the first order of Franciscan friars who arrived to evangelize the island. The monastery was destroyed and rebuilt many times after attacks from invaders and earthquakes. By the 1880’s, it was used as a mental asylum until the 1930s when it was once again destroyed by a hurricane and never repaired. Now, the ruins are used for social and cultural events.

While we didn’t have the opportunity to walk around the ruins, exploring the exterior and looking in was absolutely incredible.

Address: Monasterio de San Francisco, Calle Juan Isidro Pérez, Santo Domingo 10212, Dominican Republic

Top Places To See In Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo

Mamey Librería Café

Right on the border of Zona Colonial is the most Insta-Worthy cafe/art gallery/bookstore!

With a similar style to a Moroccan riad, the entrance to Mamey Librería Café has an open aired garden courtyard with vertical gardens, planters, fountains, and beautiful blue tiles. As you move past this garden, you are drawn to a corridor featuring a contemporary art exhibit and another open-aired courtyard with a brick floor, chairs and tables, and trees. It’s like a little oasis from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Here’s your chance to grab a seat, sip on some piña coladas (one of the best I’ve ever had), order some delicious ceviches tacos, and enjoy this quiet retreat. Oh and of course take some unique photos!

Address: Calle Las Mercedes #315, Ciudad Colonial, 10210, Santo Domingo, República Dominicana

Top Places To See In Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo

Calle Jose Reyes 

If you’re a fan of colorful walls, then all of Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial will definitely be a favorite!

I specifically listed Calle Jose Reyes because of my favorite orange, yellow, and turquoise wall (photo below). However, every single corner in Colonial City offers colorful buildings and vibrant streets. This is why I believe walking is the best way to experience Zona Colonial.

Address: Calle Jose Reyes, between Calle El Conde and Calle Salome Urena (I believe)

Top Places To See In Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo

Mercado Modelo

Do you love being touristy and buying souvenirs? Or perhaps you want to try some local specialties like hand rolled cigars or the alcoholic aphrodisiac, Mama Juan? If you said yes to any of these questions, be sure to check out Santo Domingo’s largest indoor market, Mercado Modelo!

Mercado Modelo is full of trinkets, precious stones (such as larimar), exotic produce, energetic salesmen, and even witch doctors! But don’t worry, while meeting a witch doctor may sound a little scary, they mainly prescribe herbal remedies for various ailments.

Just a little outside of Zona Colonial, this lively market is truly a unique experience with colors that will make any photo pop!

Address: Av. Mella, Santo Domingo 10211, Dominican Republic

Top Places To See In Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo
Top Places To See In Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo
Top Places To See In Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo
Top Places To See In Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo

Which of these 10 Insta-Worthy places around Zona Colonial,  Santo Domingo would you love to visit? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers! 

Angie xoxo

Thank you so much to the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism for inviting me to explore your beautiful country. As always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

2017-12-14T18:42:22+00:00

30 Comments

  1. Johny Jackson January 9, 2018 at 10:39 am - Reply

    Great blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?

    I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you suggest starting with a free platform like
    Wordpress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely confused ..
    Any suggestions? Many thanks!

  2. Pink Lemonade December 13, 2017 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Yasss, I am choosing Mercado Modelo without any doubts! 😍😍😍 All those colours, fresh fruits, local artists – this is so much me! Who doesn’t want to shop and learn the culture at the same time?! Let’s don’t forget about beautiful scenery and well…food, it can’t be missed while planning a perfect day in the town 💁🏼‍♀️ Thank you for sharing, makes me wanna go there! 😍🙏💙 For now, I am sending kisses from Asia! ☺️😘

    Agnieszka

  3. Julia December 13, 2017 at 8:16 am - Reply

    So many colorful places! I think I would get stuck at Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor :)!
    Looks like you had a lot of fun 😚

  4. Mish December 13, 2017 at 7:42 am - Reply

    The National Pantheon or perhaps the palacio would be on my to do list. I absolutely love fascinating architectures and culturally rich destinations. There seems to be a lot of history behind Santo Domingo, this blog article has certainly opened our eyes and you’ve showcased a lot of noteworthy places! Definately something to consider for future trips! Awsome pics as usual and look foreward to seeing more! Keep it up! =)
    -Milie & Mish

  5. MJ December 13, 2017 at 7:02 am - Reply

    The first university in America!!!! Wow!! Amazing post!

  6. Hanna December 12, 2017 at 10:40 pm - Reply

    Fabulous post Angie! Photos beautiful as ever and thanks for all the info! It’s definitely on the bucket list now after this! I love nature but I adore seeing different architecture around the world and these buildings are amazing!!! 💙

  7. Jess December 12, 2017 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    Wow Angie! you always capture the beauty of the destinations you travel to so well. I looooove the colours of the mercado! So juicy. Never been to Santo Domingo but I’d love to go. I’ve been to Punta Cana but don’t think you get a real feel for the DR.
    Anyways keep posting your inspiring pics!

    Jess x

  8. Maria December 12, 2017 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    It’s crazy how Santo Domingo is a history book everywhere you go! My boyfriend loved Rome for that same reason, so I may have to surprise him with a trip to Zona Colonial now 🤔

    This is such a well-written and thoughtful post, Angie. I just found out about your blog through your IG story and I look forward to reading more content from you!

  9. Nina Danielle December 12, 2017 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor And the National Patheon! I love all of you photos from this trip, and I love posts like this- helps me plan my outfits haha.

  10. Sol December 12, 2017 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    Love each one of your photos Angie! These places are beautiful and I’m happy that you’re promoted underrated destinations 💛 Keep up the amazing work!

  11. Christine December 12, 2017 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    I love posts like this! This is the important information i need to know before i visit a new country. I feel like im better able to plan my visit this way! Thanks so much for posting 😊

    -Christine

  12. Cara Lovan December 12, 2017 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    Those blue doors and fruit stands. 💙 **adds to list of places to travel…**

    So many great shots and information. Thank you for sharing with us, Angie! Where to next for you?

    • Angie December 15, 2017 at 5:58 pm - Reply

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂

      I am hopefully going to NYC next month! But till then, lots of weekend trips around Arizona.

  13. Carlie December 12, 2017 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    Wow! What a colourful place! I have never even thought of the DR as a place to visit, but now thanks to you I am definitely adding this to my list. It looks so vibrant, and culture rich. Spanish vibes in the Caribbean, what more could you want?! Thank you again for opening my mind up to another great destination xo

  14. Beth December 12, 2017 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    These spots are so beautiful an colourful! And not only are they insta-worthy, but they come with lots of history too!

  15. Leanne December 12, 2017 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    Wow! Such amazing pictures! I love this country so much. It truly is paradise. Can’t wait to visit again!

  16. Lauren December 12, 2017 at 6:58 pm - Reply

    Wow what a cool place ! I feel like the colours just pop the city! How could you not just be in a good mood!
    The architecture + vibrant colours and history give it such a cool vibe ! Seems funny to me a basilica can be church and slaughterhouse in its day. Seems ironic lol.

    I quite enjoy reading your posts. I really should comment more often!! Sorry about that! You do a really good job of mixing great photography, social media info as to the best spots, where they are, and history. The mix of information is certainly appreciated.

    I’m looking forward to future posts especially Perú. One of my best friends and I said in 5 years we are going And that was a year and a half ago !

    Thanks Angie! Keep up the good work!

    Lauren

  17. Jules December 12, 2017 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    Wow! Such amazing pictures and so nice places to visit. I really need to try this one time! I think I will ne in this area in the last half of the next year. Thanks for sharing your tips! For how long have you stayed in Santo Domingo? Cheers!

  18. anjenidoma December 12, 2017 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    What a charming city! Had no idea it’s a city of “first”. So interesting and such a fun fact. You made me wanna travel there, love the architecture and colors and your outfit choice is always on point 👌👌 great article well done!

  19. Yvette December 12, 2017 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    Santo Domingo sounds incredible! Love all the beautiful colonial buildings! Thank you for sharing your gorgeous photos and tips Angie!

  20. Casey December 12, 2017 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    Seriously love all the colors! I’ve never really had DR on my radar of places to visit so I def want to make a trip now! Isn’t it amazing what the colorful pictures can do to make you want to just up and see a place you never thought of going to before?! I love this about blogs and social media! As always your work is gorgeous and inspiring and so proud to watch you grow and folllw along on your journeys!! Xoxo

  21. Ana Araujo December 12, 2017 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    Such a quaint little place! Love it so much thank you for sharing your tips. You inspire me to keep chasing my dream of traveling the world. Also there was something so dreamy Mamey Librería Café! Loved it and I hope to visit someday, so thanks for sharing!

  22. Melinda McNatt December 12, 2017 at 6:03 pm - Reply

    I’ve wanted to go there for years, on my bucket list! So beautiful! The aritechture is just gorgeous! Love all the pics of the fruit!! Looks like an abating place!

  23. Kai Greene December 12, 2017 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    All of those are such beautiful places! Mercado Modelo is the place for me! Obviously for the beautiful colors and my obvious shopping problem! Lol All of those instaworthy places are beyond beautiful! And this is another amazing blog post Angie! 💖

  24. Devon Butler December 12, 2017 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    Wow I’ve actually never thought of travelling here but it looks stunning and I love travelling to places with such a rich history. Awesome post

    Devon

  25. Anubhuti December 1, 2017 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    Hi

    I saw you tweet about travel and I thought I’d checkout your website. Looks like The Lovely Escapist has come a long way. Keep up the good work.

  26. Ytzi November 25, 2017 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    This reminds me Mexico a lot, the colorful streets and monuments are just beautiful. I’ve never been there but definitely have it on my bucket list!!!

    My fav photo was the Palacio Consistorial. What an architecture!!!

  27. Eva Ulibarri November 20, 2017 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures of point of interests and all the history of the city/landmarks and other details of this amazing place!!! These well rounded information
    surely left me curious enough to make this part of the world as one of my future travel destination!!!

  28. Ann_wanderlusting November 15, 2017 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    That reminds me so much of Cartagena. Love it

  29. Margareth November 14, 2017 at 5:46 am - Reply

    Such incredible photos! I would love to visit all of these places, but my first stop would have to be Monasterio de San Francisco.

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