Duration: Full Day
Experience the cultural delights of Santiago during your holiday in the Dominican Republic, a province renowned for its sugar, tobacco and rum industries. After a tour of the city you will venture into the heart of the countryside, through the Dominican Alps to the mountain village of Jarabacoa. This tour is a wonderful introduction to the Dominican Republic’s fascinating history, culture and natural beauty.
Your day begins by driving south from Puerta Plata to Santiago de los Caballeros, the first capital and second largest city of the Dominican Republic, and the capital of Santiago Province. Steeped in history, this bustling metropolis sprang to life at the end of the 15th century when Christopher Columbus ordered the construction of the Santiago Fortress on the banks of the Yaque del Norte River to protect gold mining in the area. Christopher’s brother Bartholomew Columbus was appointed governor shortly after and the city rapidly developed.
As you stroll through Santiago’s wide streets you will see some of the oldest monuments in the Americas. More traditional than today’s capital Santa Domingo, you will also notice the city’s unique blend of cultures. The African heritage (introduced by African slaves brought to the island in the 16th century) is reflected in its infectious merengue music, which can be heard blaring from bars and clubs as the sun goes down, whilst Western influence is evident throughout the city in its many colonial buildings. During the 19th-century Santiago was the wealthiest city in the nation due to its thriving tobacco industry, and many grand structures are testament to the city’s great wealth during this period.
City highlights include the 19th century Catedral Santiago Apóstol (Cathedral of Santiago), the 19th century Palacio Consistorial, the Tomas Morel Museum of Folkloric Art and Calle El Sol, the city’s main shopping district. Parque Duarte, the main square and heart of Old Santiago, is also a popular place to explore by horse and carriage. You will notice the Monument a los Heroes de la Restauracion (Monument to the Heroes of the Restoration) dominating the entrance to the city. This huge hilltop monument was erected under the orders of brutal military dictator and president Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina to honour himself. Visitors can climb the stairs of the monument to gain spectacular views of Santiago and the surrounding countryside.
Surrounded by mountains, Santiago lies in the heart of the fertile Cibao Valley. This is the country's main agricultural centre and most fertile region, boasting thriving fruit orchards and vast coffee, sugar and tobacco plantations. After visiting a cigar factory, where you will see some of the best cigars in the world being made by hand, you will travel by jeep through the breathtaking Dominican Alps to the small town of Jarabacoa. Located at the foothills of the Cordillera Central mountain region, this area is blessed with cascading waterfalls, deep canyons and lush green valleys carpeted by tropical forests – a haven for eco-tourists looking for adventure in the great outdoors. Not to be missed, this tour of the island’s heartland reveals the ‘real’ Dominican Republic.
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