Fortaleza Ozama was built in 1502 and this impressive fort is the oldest military structure in the New World.
Inside the fort you’ll find The Tower of Homage, with two-meter thick walls and dozens of riflemen embrasures. It is absolute recommendable to take the spiral staircase to the roof of the tower for beautiful 360 degree views of Santo Domingo. Also of interest is the old powder house standing off to the side, with a statue of the Virgin Mary keeping watch over the door.
Standing in the middle of the yard is a bronze statue of Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo, a famous historical chronicler who was put in charge of the fort and lived and died there. His room was on the second floor of the fort and was turned into a prison cell after his death.
Until the 1970s Fortaleza Ozama served many functions, including as a military post and a prison, until it was opened to the public.
Optional and informative tours are offered by the guards at the front gate (also in English).
Calle las Damas is older than anything in the US and the DR. I wasn't sure on the exact history of the place but I know it was there during Columbus times. It's got a nice quaint area around it and historical, beauitfully-architeched buildings. There's also a fort nearby that I recommend seeing. It's free to get into and rather cool to see. It overlooks a river and some of the town/city around it. This also has a cool historical background involving battles.
The Ozama Fortress is the oldest military building in the New World. It guarded the entrance to the city on the banks of the Ozama River. Within the fort is the Tower of Homage which was built in 1503 and used as a prison, and you can still see some of the head blocks used then.
Some music concerts are held there.
Practical info: open daily 9am-5pm. Admission 30DOP Dominicans and 50DOP Tourists (if my memory doesn't fail me), including a small pamphlet with information (in Spanish only). Tours available for a fee in Spanish and English.
The Arsenal is a smaller building inside the Fortaleza that is set apart from the Torre del Homenaje. It was built in 1502 and was the provisional fort until the completion of the Fortaleza Ozama proper. The building itself isn't open to tourist visits and it may seem that it is oout of bounds, given that the entire lawn up to it is left to be overgrown with long grasses. Still, you can go up to the building and photograph it. There is an interesting sculpture of the patron Santa Bárbara in a niche above the doorway.
The Torre del Homenaje is the most central and most fortified part of the Fortaleza Ozama and was used up until 1965, primarily as a prison (ostensibly for political prisoners as well). One of the features of the Torre is that, if you go to the bottom, you can see the hole through which prisoners were dropped back into their cell. The best part, however, is the top of the Tower, from which you get great views out over the entire Rio Ozama. There is no structure built for climbing to the top so this isn't quite meant for the faint of heart. Rather, you have to climb the worn stairs hewn into the side of the fortress and then pop up onto the top of the Torre. Still, if you can physically manage the climb it is a spectacular view.
The Fortaleza Ozama is, obviously, one of the oldest European forts in the entire New World, owing to the fact that Hispaniola was the first island to be "discovered" by Christopher Columbus for the Spanish crown. It was from here that conquests of Cuba, Jamaica, Colombia, Mexico and Peru were all launched, and this was an active and functioning military installation right up until 1965 - the last American invasion of the country. It was built in 1502 and is remarkable for its Neoclassical gate. The interior of the Fortress has a large statue that comemmorates González Oviedo, who was the commander of the fort from 1533 to 1557. Oviedo was also the author of of "History of the Indies". You will also find the Torre del Homenaje and the Arsenal inside the fort (see my tips on those two structures). You can get a guided tour of the installations but it isn't necessary - you can also just wander about on your own with guidebook in hand. Watch out, however, as there are some resident roosters near the gates and you don't want to disturb them too much in their daily worm hunts!
This is called after Rio Ozama, not Bin Laden :)
The original fortress was built in 1502, and has since been significantly enlarged. The central keep, the Torre de Homenaje offers great views of the city and the sea, and you can also see the hole through which prisoners were dropped into their cells.
This is a great place to see if you like history; once inside, you will not be able to avoid imagining being a conquistador in the XVI century fighting against English pirates. From the top, you get a great view of old city and the sea. A large section of the original wall is still standing. However, the outer wall was actually built in the XX century by dictator Trujillo who used the site as a political prison.
The large fortress of Santo Domingo's Zona Colonial, the oldest and original part of the city. Also called the Fortaleza de Santo Domingo, the fort is bordered by the Ozama River and the Calle de las Damas, the oldest and most historic road in the city. Dating from 1502, the fort is the oldest military complex in the Americas. The peaceful atmosphere is a marked contrast to what it was in its heyday, as from this strategic site Spain launched numerous expeditions to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the North American mainland.
This is where Trujillo (Rafael Trujillo, the dictator who brutally ruled the country from 1930 to 1961, when he was assassinated with CIA backing) used to keep prisoners. He killed lots of people. He was not democratic. He was friends with Baby Doc (neighbouring Haiti’s former dictator).
The fort also contains the Fuerte de Santiago (16th century) and the blocky powder house (18th century). The grounds are well maintained, and it is quite enjoyable to stroll about the walkways and lawns or relax on one of the benches. If you have the time, linger within the walls and stick around for the sunset.
The admission fee is less than a dollar, although you may be greeted by a tour guide who would like to give you a personal tour of the grounds for an additional fee. As usual, I like to tour a place solo if I can help it. Upon admission, you will get a little pamphlet (in Spanish only) with a nice site map and some historical information.
This tower was built in 1502-1507. I served as a torture tower, prison. Indians, rebels and heretics were executed there...
What a grave history of such a beautiful building! Nowadays you can enter it without the fear of being imprisoned or executed. You can go to the top, where you get very nice views. You can see the Ozama river and huge cruise ships 'parked' near by, bringing tourists for their one-day visit.