Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Old Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Calle de Las Damas

©By Danny Aquino
Translation by Gerald Singer
Photos by Gerald Singer & Habiba Hussein

Calle de las Damas

The Calle de las Damas follows the shoreline of the Rio Ozama. It is the oldest street in Santo Domingo with construction beginning in 1502. The street runs from the Fortaleza Ozama to the Alcazar de Colon. Its first name was the Calle de la Forteleza, or Street of the Fort.

In 1509, the son of Christopher Columbus, Diego Colon, who had the titles Admiral and Viceroy and who was married to Maria de Toledo, the niece of King Ferdinand, arrived in Santo Domingo. With him came a following made up of members of important Spanish families, among whom were 30 ladies of the court and their retinues.

These ladies used to walk down this street from the Alcazar de Colon in order to attend mass at the Cathedral and they were also in the habit of strolling up and down the street in their free time. It was for this reason that the street then became known as “Calle de las Damas.”

Calle de las damas

The street has been known by other names over the years such as Calle Reloj del Sol, Calle de los Jesuitas, Calle de la Capitanía General, Calle de la Real Audiencia and Calle Colón in honor of the Columbus family. Today the official name is and most likely will remain Calle de las Damas.

Because most of the first Europeans who came to Santo Domingo were from the Andalucía region of Spain, the Calle de las Damas, like much of the old city was built in a style similar to that found in Andalucía. The bricks used in the pavement are not original, as the originals were taken from the street and used as ballast for the sailing ships of long ago.

Calle de las damas

In Cartagena in Colombia and in old San Juan in Puerto Rico, however, one can still find these original paving stones from centuries past.

There is only one private residence on the Calle de las Damas. This colonial mansion has ten bedrooms, a Spanish-style courtyard and a fresh-water well. The doors of the house came from Portugal in the eighteenth century.

There are several restored buildings, monuments and places of great historical significance, which can be seen along the Calle de Damas. Such as the Foraleza Ozama, the Casa de Rodrigo de Bastida, the historic boulevard, El Conde, the Casa de Hernán Cortés, and the Panteon Nacional.

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