DOMINICAN REPUBLIC  |  Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Travel Guide
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Santo Domingo Parks


Jardín Botánico Nacional (Botanical Gardens)

This sprawling public garden in the northwest reaches of the city has immaculately tended grounds, with more than 300 varieties of orchids and other flora (ferns, bromeliads, palms) on display – many of them indigenous to the Dominican Republic. The Japanese stone garden, complete with pagoda and a shrub maze, provides a cooling respite.

Parque Mirador del Este

The giant public park on the east bank of the Ozama River contains two major tourist attractions: the Cuevas de los Tres Ojos and the Faro a Colón.

Cuevas de los Tres Ojos (Cave of Three Eyes)

The “three eyes” here are actually four lagoons of incredibly blue water, occupying a huge underground limestone cave once inhabited by Tainos (one of many caves and sinkholes in the park). Of varying depths, the lagoons were once used as bathing holes. There are walkways, but the most interesting of the four lakes is set way in the back of the cave and can be reached only by small boat (RD $10) that ferries passengers across the narrow channel. The jungle-like setting, enhanced by the lagoons and stalactites and stalagmites, has drawn a number of film companies here to shoot scenes for Tarzan-style adventure films.

Be sure to wear sturdy shoes since you have to negotiate a steep set of rock steps down into the cave. To get here by public transportation, take the “Corredor Independencia” OMSA to the park and then cross Avenida Las Américas by foot to enter the caves from the parking lot.

Faro a Colón (Columbus Lighthouse)

Also in the park is Faro a Colón (Columbus Lighthouse), a massive cross-shaped stone structure – nearly 700 feet tall and the length of several football fields. It was built to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the New World. The lighthouse’s powerful beacon shines in the sky in the shape of a gigantic cross, and is especially visible on cloudy nights. (It’s only used at certain times, though, in order to save electricity.) Built during the regime of Joaquín Balaguer, the controversial project – many say grandiose boondoggle – was decades in the making, cost upwards of US $200 million, and displaced thousands of area residents when it was built. Local protests at the time kept many of the invited dignitaries from attending the inaugural ceremonies.

Inside, a museum displays exhibitions about Columbus from around the globe as well as paintings of the Virgin mother from around Latin America. The enormous and elaborately detailed marble mausoleum in the center is reputed to hold Columbus’ remains – although, like the lighthouse itself, the explorer’s final resting place has been the subject of much controversy. Spain, Italy (and, recent rumors have it, Columbus, Ohio ) also claim to have him; Seville, Spain is the leading contender. To get there by public transportation, take the OMSA “Independencia” to the last stop.

Parque Mirador del Sur

This four-mile-long expanse of greenery in the southwestern neighborhood of the same name is a favorite haunt of joggers, cyclists, and in-line skaters. There are a number of limestone caves here as well, two of which have been turned into a popular nightclub and a well-known restaurant. The best way to gain access to the park is from the east side of Av. Winston Churchill (which is officially named Jiménez Moya south of Avenida 27 de Febrero).

Last updated November 24, 2007
Posted in   Dominican Republic  |  Santo Domingo
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