Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Calle de Las Damas
©By Danny Aquino
Translation by Gerald Singer
Photos by Gerald Singer & Habiba Hussein
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.”
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.
In Cartagena in Colombia and in old San Juan in Puerto
Rico, however, one can still find these original paving stones from
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
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