Santo Domingo

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Santo Domingo

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The biggest and oldest city in the Caribbean, cobblestoned Santo Domingo is a charismatic, vibrant blend of plush parks and tropical gardens, Spanish-colonial architecture, and pulsating bars and nightclubs. Founded at the end of the 15th-century by Columbus – not Christopher but his brother, Bartholomew – the city's Zona Colonial is a treasure trove of historic buildings, from Alcázar de Colón and Fortaleza Ozama to the stunning Catedral Primada de America. The influence of the brothers Columbus upon the history of the Dominican Republic was, of course, huge, but to learn about the island's pre-Columbus history, check out the Museo del Hombre Dominican and Museo Prehispanico. You might want to head out of Santo Domingo to experience the island's best beaches, but don't neglect the city's parks; Parque Mirador Sur is a particularly popular local hangout, so grab your frisbee or sunscreen and join in the fun. Santo Domingo after hours is as lively and eclectic as anywhere in the Caribbean, so whether you're bar-hopping your way along the Malecón promenade, shaking your hips in a dance hall or descending into a merengue-filled cave nightclub, you'll feel pretty good about it afterward.

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