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Catedral Santa Maria de la Encarnacion: heritage of the past


With its coral-and-ochre stone facade, and a pure-silver altar of inestimable value, this cathedral was the first religious building constructed on South American soil.

Construction on this place of worship originally began in 1514, when it was built out of clay and palm fronds. The cathedral served as the headquarters of Sir Francis Drake, the English privateer who plundered Santo Domingo during the year 1586. Guides like to show the first chapel, to the right of the altar, where Drake allegedly hung his hammock and cut off the nose of a statue with one fell swoop of his sabre. The building also housed the remains of Christopher Columbus at one point. He had expressed the desire to come to rest here in one of the 14 chapels, though his remains have also been claimed to be in Seville, as well as in the Columbus Lighthouse mausoleum and museum on the island.

The controversy continues, and Santo Domingo and Spain are still competing over the honour of housing the remains of this illustrious explorer. The main gate and the door of the cathedral were restored in 1992 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage to America.

Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación
Calle Isabel La Católica
Santo Domingo 10210

+1 809 682 3848

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