• Registration Year


  • Registered Sector

    Colonial City of Santo Domingo

  • Historical Function


  • Administrative Status

    National capital.

Location and site

Santo Domingo is located at the mouth of the Ozama River, on the shore of the Caribbean Sea and on the south side of the Island of Hispaniola.

Urban Morphology

The layout of the colonial city, which takes the form of a grid, is the work of Nicolas of Ovando. With its narrow streets, it served as a model for almost all of the urban planners of the New World. A relatively large number of urban squares and gardens are dispersed throughout the city, and the limits of the site are marked by fortresses, towers and gates.

The colonial town of Santo Domingo dominates the sea. Its monuments are constructed of white stone that appears to be almost worn by the sea. The Cathedral, which was the first in the New World, and early churches combine with dwellings surmounted by tile roofs and embellished with ironwork in the landscape of cobblestone streets. A multiplicity of views of the sea may be enjoyed from the city.

Registration Criteria

C (ii) (iv) (vi)

Historical Reference

  • The choice of the site for Santo Domingo, on the eastern shore of the Ozama River, was based on the presence of gold mines in the area. In 1502, the city was relocated from the other shore of the river following a series of natural disasters, including a hurricane and an invasion of ants.
  • Despite the rapid exhaustion of the mines, Santo Domingo continued to develop. As the first European establishment in the New World, it became a cultural and political centre for Spain.
  • En 1795, Spain ceded the eastern part of the Island of Hispaniola to France. After a number of troubled years, the western part of the island, the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo attained its independence in 1844.
  • In 1930, a hurricane devastated Santo Domingo, leaving only its masonry buildings standing. The city was reconstructed, under the direction of General Trujillo, on the site of the 16th-century Spanish town. The new capital is one of the most modern cities of the Caribbean as well as an important commercial centre.
Sr. David Collado
Ayuntamiento del Distrito Nacional
Centro de Los Héroes
Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional, República Dominicana
+809 532.0245, 535.2222