Duration: Half Day
A holiday in the Dominican Republic conjures up images of beautiful white sandy beaches, crystal clear aquamarine waters and lush tropical landscapes, as well as the all-important Caribbean cocktails, local rum and world-famous cigars. If you venture into the main cities, however, you will uncover a wealth of colonial history and architectural treasures. Discover the city highlights of San Pedro on this fascinating cultural tour, whilst you soak up the sights, sounds, colours and history of Dominican life.
Situated on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic, approximately one hour's drive east of Santo Domingo, the vibrant cosmopolitan city of San Pedro de Macoris has much to offer its visitors. Firstly, this is the home of Dominican baseball, and the city is renowned for producing world-class baseball players such as the legendary Sammy Sosa, Alfonso Soriano and Jorge Bell. Secondly, visitors will be delighted to discover a colourful, lively town which has an authentic Caribbean flair with an exciting Cuban twist. The city has been portrayed as Havana in several Hollywood films, and Cuban influence is evident throughout the city.
You are in for a cultural treat if you visit San Pedro during the magnificent Cocolo festivals, held annually at Christmas and during the Feast of San Pedro at the end of June in honour of St. Peter, the city's patron saint. The Cocolo dancing drama tradition developed among Caribbean English-speaking migrant workers, who came to the Dominican Republic from the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas in the mid-19th century to work on the British sugar plantations. The streets are full of troupes of masked dancers at this time, who parade through the city in brightly-coloured costumes performing dance dramas that bring a social or religious message to its onlookers through legends, biblical stories and events from Cocolo history.
You will notice that San Pedro is surrounded by vast sugarcane fields, which is the main industry in the province of the same name. The region’s successful sugarcane economy grew after Cuban refugees fled their country’s War of Independence in the 19th century, bringing their valuable skills and expertise of the sugarcane faming industry with them. The city developed rapidly and when the sugar industry boomed, San Pedro became the richest place in the country. However, as supply hugely outstripped demand and the price of sugar dropped, the factories went into decline and the glory days passed.
Stroll through the streets today and you will still find evidence of this bygone era, including the neo-classical Catedral San Pedro Apóstol (Cathedral of St Peter the Apostle), the Victorian fire station and other interesting colonial buildings around Parque Central. Other architectural highlights include the town square and the Malecon, a bustling seaside promenade which runs around the mouth of the Higuamo River and the Caribbean Sea. Shopping is particularly good in San Pedro, so spend time browsing the bustling city market and shops for gifts and souvenirs before you leave. This is a fascinating tour not to be missed.
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