Panteón Nacional (the National Mausoleum) was built between 1714 and 1745, originally as a Jesuit church (Iglesia de los Padres). During the church’s history it has been used as a tobacco warehouse, housing for the San Fernando seminary, public offices and a theatre for the independence fighters in 1860.
In 1956 Dictator Rafael Trujillo turned it into Panteón Nacional – the resting place for many of the greatest Dominican heroes (Trujillo is not buried here…).
A soldier is always stationed at the entrance, and you can watch the changing of the guard – but I didn’t think it was something special.
Originally a Jesuit church, this is the final home of important Dominican figures including most of the patriots that fought to make the DR independent from foreign mandates. In the middle of the pantheon there's a flame that never extinguishes, like an eternal candle lit on for these souls who rest in peace.
Don't miss the change of guard.
Practical info: open daily 9am-4:30pm. It does NOT cost anything to enter, contrary to what anyone can say. Dress appropriately.
Latin America is a region where most countries have experienced long spells of military rule, and the Dominican Republic is no exception to the rule of military intervention in civilian politics. It should not be surprising, then, that one of the main tourist attractions in central Santo Domingo is the Panteón Nacional, tha burial place and memorial for the Republic's soldiers and military heroes. The Jesuits had the building constructed between 1714 and 1745 but, after their expulsion by the Spaniards, the structure served as a tobacco warehouse, seminary and then theatre. The façade is neo-Classical and contains statues of Jesus and Loyola, while the interior, completely renovated, features Italian marble and a huge chandelier donated by Spain's then caudillo, Generalisimo Franco. Various caudillos lie here and the mood is very sombre, with honour guard and eternal flame included. The frescoes are quite impressive, however, and even if you are opposed to the military or dictatorships in general this is quite an interesting place to visit.
This building, located on the Calle de las Damas, is the mausoleum of the outstanding Dominicans. Note that the three founding fathers are buried at a different mausoleum at the Western gate of the old city.
This building was a monastery church of the Jesuit Order. Dictator Trujillo restored it in 1955 and it became a shrine for national heroes. It's very interesting and full of atmosphere to watch the changing of the guard.
Open Tuesday through Sunday 9am-5pm.