Parque Independencia, Santo Domingo
El Conde Gate (Puerta del Conde) is the place where the Dominican flag was hoisted for the first time on the day we fought for and declared ourselves an independent country (Feb 27th, 1844). When you go through the gate you enter Parque Independencia (Independence Park), which is like an oasis in the otherwise chaotic city.
In the park there's the Altar de la Patria where our freedom fighters (padres de la patria) rest in peace: Juan Pablo Duarte, Francisco del Rosario Sánchez and Ramón Matías Mella. Inside the Altar there's 3 statues of these brave men, as if they were looking over us. Their bodies represent the Holy Trinity as well as the revolutionary movement La Trinitaria, whom we owe our independence.
The park is surrounded by gates in which there's painting expositions sometimes.
The Altar de la Patria is a massive white marble monument to the heroes of the Dominican independence movement. This is where you will find the graves of Mella, Duarte and Sánchez, all members of the group that rebelled against Haitian occupation in the 1840s. Official, you are not supposed to enter the Altar de la Patria in shorts or tanktops, but the guards don't seem to mind (when tourists do it). When we were there, one of the soldiers (who looked 18) was playing on his PS2 and barely noticed our presence.
Parque Independencia - that is, inside the walls and not the street - is best described as an oasis. Although it was originally designed to honour the memory of those who fought for and died in the name of Dominican independence, today it provides an impressive get away from the traffic, noise and pollution of the street Parque Independencia - made worse by the fact that this is the pick up spot for most intercity guaguas.The park's centrepiece is Altar de la Patria (see my tip on that attraction) but it also contains beautiful flowers and trees, as well as benches for you to sit on in the shade in order to escape the heat and noise of the city, even if just for a few minutes.
The Puerta del Conde or Gate of the Count is named after the Count Bernado Bracamonte, who was a 17th century military man who saved the city from British invasion in 1655. The Puerta del Conde also has more modern significance for the Dominican people, as this is where the national flag was first raised by Mella. It is a red-brick structure that always has a ceremonial guard posted out front. The guards can be a bit puzzling, given the fact that this is in the middle of one of Santo Domingo's busiest thoroughfares and surrounded by guaguas and fruitsellers, but once you pass by the hustle and bustle of modern life the honour guard still seems impressive, especially against the backdrop of the Altar de la Patria.
At the west end of El Conde is the El Conde Gate, part of the old city wall. It is now the entrace to Independence Park, where the mausoleum of the Fathers of the country is. Here is where Duarte, Sanchez, and Mella declared independence for the Dominican Republic in 1844.
This park is located to the west of the old city. Here is a mausoleum of the three founders of Dominican Republic.