Santo Domingo to St Martin

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St Martin, Sint Maarten, 15 September 2016

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Santo Domingo Port.

This is just after taking off in the plane.  The next eight images are flying along the south east coast of the Dominican Republic and the first ones are at or close to Santo Domingo.  They’re through a plane window of course so there are sometimes some reflections from inside the plane.

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AES Andres electric power plane and LNG importing facility.

 

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Still the port, incorporates both of the previous images.

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San Pedro de Macoris.

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El Soco.

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Isla Catalina and La Romana.

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La Romana.

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Boca de Yuma.

Juan Sanchez Ramirez landed at Boca de Yuma in 1808, coming from Puerto Rico, and routed the French, who at that time controlled Hispaniola, in the Battle of Palo Hincado.  He then became Governor of the Spanish Colony of Santo Domingo until he died in 1811.  He is known as “the father of the Dominican Republic”.

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Juanilllo, the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic.

 

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Puerto Rico was probably covered in cloud (so I have no other images of the main island) but this is Ceiba Ferry Terminal, at the eastern tip of Puerto Rico.

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Vieques National Willdlife Reserve and Punta Este, Vieques Island, Puerto Rico.

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Culebra, Puerto Rico.

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St Martin/ Sint Maarten is an island divided between France and the Netherlands.  This is the western tip, Les Terres Basses, St Martin. Anguilla in the background.

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Cupecoy Beach. Sint Maarten in the foreground to the right, St Martin behind. Simpson Bay Lagoon behind the Sin Maarten buildings. The little white terrace houses on the left edge of the beach are half in St Martin and half in Sin Maarten.

This image provides a good summary of the difference between St Martin and Sint Maarten at the time.  Sint Maarten was an overdeveloped cruise ship destination, with multi-storeyed hotels and casinos, and more than 50% urban.  St Martin was more just a place where people lived with some nice undeveloped locations, much more interesting to us.

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Sint Maarten, moving a little along the coastline.

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A resort near the airport.

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And here we are coning to land low over the beach.  I will have an image in a later post showing how this looks from the beach.

 

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This is a view from where we were staying at Over the Hill Guest House in Grand Case, nearing sunset.

We knew we were in the hurricane season in the Caribbean but fortunately we did not encounter one.  A year after we were there, St Martin and Sint Maarten were hammered by Hurricane Irma, which passed directly over the island.  95% of buildings in St Martin were damaged and 60% rendered uninhabitable.  Also, 70% of the buildings in Sint Maarten were damaged and a third destroyed.  Our accommodation appears to have reopened after being closed for around a year though now they probably have few guests due to COVID-19.  Most of the buildings in adjoining properties show in Google Earth as still levelled to the ground.

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Houses on a nearby hill.

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Night-time view in the same direction.

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Santo Domingo Monochromes

12-14 September 2016, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

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Links go to posts with the colour versions of the images (where there may also be more information and context). If an image does not have a link, the preceding one applies. (Click on any image to see it larger).

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Art vendor in the centre of the old city.

Catedral Primada de America.

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Around the block from the Cathedral.

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Inside the Cathedral.

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Museo Casa de Tostado.

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A statue of Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés in front of the Tower of Homage.

Fortaleza Ozama.

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This vehicle was parked in the street right outside where we were staying, in the centre of the old city.

Wandering in Santo Domingo.

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Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes or the Church of Our Lady of the Mercedes.

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Calle Hostos.

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Monasterio de San Francisco.

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Alcázar de Colón.

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Museo de las Casas Reales.

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Edges of the Old City.

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Edges of the Old City (Santo Domingo)

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 14 September 2016

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Stepping out from the Museo de las Casas Reales, we encounter a driver with horse and cart, eager to take us for a ride (though we continued on foot).  You may need to click on the image to see it properly but towards the top right is a very old street sign.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it is from the early sixteenth century.

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Walking along the street the horse and cart came from, this is Hostal Nicolas de Ovando, a four star hotel.

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I know approximately where this is but not what it is.  Perhaps an old monastery.

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This is Iglesia de Nuestra Senora del Carmen, attached to Iglesia de los Dominicos, or the Dominican Convent.

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This is a statue of Ingenio Maria del Hostos.  He was a Puerto Rican intellectual who agitated for the independence of Puerto Rico and Cuba at the turn of the twentieth century.  (Instead, they were colonised by the United States).  He ended up living in Santo Domingo.  We are probably in Parque Duarte.

 

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A charming side street.

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An overgrown ruin.  I think, a former religious building.

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The white building bears the sign Fundación Virgen Del Perpetuo Socorro Inc, so I can tell we are in Calle 19 de Marzo, or 19th March Street.  19th March 1844 was the date when an invading Haitian army was defeated in battle.

 

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We are down by the river now and this is Frey Antonio de Ovando.  What can he be shouting out?  Get out of the river?  How do I find my way back to Hostal Nicolas de Ovando?  Help, I’ve got a plant growing on my back and a lightbulb implanted in my head?

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No, it’s Help!  I have a cannon pointed at me!

There could be a reason for that.  He arrived with thirty ships in 1502, became Governor, treated the Indians with great brutality and was recalled for that reason in 1509.

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An ancient door and facade of a religious institution.

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The lizard doorknocker!

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Somewhere around here, a man in dreadlocks appeared and told us it was not safe to walk in this area with cameras, and also invited us to his restaurant that night.

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This is La Puerta del Conde, now the main entrance to El Parque Nacional or Independence Park..

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Some of the detail is interesting.  The statue of the soldier (probably an independence leader).  The soldiers in the shadows at the left.  The cannon pointing down the street.

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We are now in the Altar de la Patria, a mausoleum dedicated to the three founding fathers from the 1844 War of Independence, Juan Pablo Duarte, Francisco del Rosario Sánchez, and Ramón Matías Mella,.

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Still in the same area, we are at El Baluarte del Conde (The Count’s Bulwark), part of the City fortifications dating from 1543.

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With cannons to keep the streets safe…..

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The old and the somewhat new.

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Zonabici, sign for a bicycle rental shop near where we were staying.  This is the last image from our stay in Santo Domingo.

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Museo de las Casas Reales

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 14 September 2016

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Our next stop was Museo de las Casas Reales, or Museum of the Royal houses.  Built in 1511, this was the Real Audience (Royal Audience) or Royal Court of Justice, and also the Palace of the Governors and the General Captaincy until the west side of Hispaniola was ceded to France in 1799 and those functions moved to Cuba.

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These are pages from the first book written in Spanish in the Americas.  It is the navigational diaries of Christopher Columbus and the book of the privileges granted to him by the Crown.

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This must be the Santa Maria.

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The Golden Hind, Drake’s ship.

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The museum houses the history of the island from 1492 until 1821.

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The Pharmaceutical Products industry, founded in the sixteenth century, incorporated both Indian and Spanish knowledge.  It was established by a Spaniard married to an Indian named Antonio de Villa-Sante and featured a balm for many ailments derived from the guacunax tree.

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Rifles from the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries.

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Persian helmet, shield and arm guards.  Also Turkish sword.  Eighteenth to nineteenth centuries.

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Apparently a Grand Reception Hall.

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An eighteenth century warship, I’d say, but I didn’t record the label.

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Santo Domingo in 1785.

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Presumably the “throne” of the Governor.

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The portrait at the left is of Francisco de Vitoria (1486 – 1546), known for his defence of the rights of Indians against the settlers and his advocacy of the limits of justifiable warfare.

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Alcázar de Colón

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 14 September 2016

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On our way from Monasterio de San Francisco to Alcázar de Colón, we passed the doorway to Casa del Cordon (which is not open to the public).  It was built in the very early 16th century and is be3lieved to be the oldest stone house in the Americas.  For a period from 1509 it was home to Diego Columbus, son of Christopher and Governor at the time.

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Now we are inside Alcázar de Colón (or Castle of Columbus) which is now a museum.

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Diego Columbus moved here from Casa de Cordon after it was built.  Wikipedia says that Alcázar de Colón is the only known residence of Diego, which is clearly wrong.

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It was built between 1510 and 1514 of coral rocks, using 1,500 actually or effectively enslaved Taino Indians.

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It once had fifty-five rooms and a number of gardens and courtyards.  It now has twenty-two rooms which are open to the public.

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The Columbus family lived here until 1577.  In 1586 Sir Francis Drake plundered it.

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From the mid-eighteenth century it was abandoned and fell into ruins.

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It was restored between 1955 and 1957 although there was controversy at the time of the historical sensitivity of this project.

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The Palaza houses works of art from the 14th to 17th centuries.

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The painting is presumably Christopher and Diego, and the model the Santa Maria.

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Out on the street again.

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The little metal globes on the kerb were used for the tying of horses.

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Monasterio de San Francisco

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 14 September 2016

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The Monasterio de San Francisco was the first monstery in the Americas.  It was first built in wood in 1508 and rebuilt in stone between 1523 and 1556.

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It was sacked by Drake in 1586 and fully repaired in 1664.  Then it was destroyed again by a cyclone in 1673.

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Beehive on a wall.

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In 1808, in a particularly tumultuous period of Dominican history, the French were in control but had just lost the Battle of Palo Hincado about a hundred kilometres away to Spanish insurgents.  They mounted a cannon on a wooden platform atop the vault and fired two rounds.  On the second, the vault collapsed and was never reconstructed.

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Pigeons adding their own particular brand of mortar to the building.

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Remaining parts of the buildings were used as an insane asylum from 1880 until 1930 when Cyclone San Zenón laid waste to much of what remained and that was never repaired either.

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Currently on Sundays, live bands play Merengue, Bachata, Salsa and Son, but we were unfortunately not there on a Sunday.

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Two posts ago I covered the spectacularly chequered history of Hispaniola and the Dominican Republic.  If you haven’t read that you might like to go back and look at it now.

What I would like to do now is to cover the effect of Karma in that history, from a modern social democrat perspective.

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First the Spanish came to an island with one to two million Taino Indians, living in peace, certainly by the standards of what followed.  The Spanish may not have been socially more advanced but they had armour, steel, horses and guns.  After fifty years there were not many Taino left. Many of them died of disease incubated by the insanitary conditions the Spanish lived in in their homeland.  Had they retained more of the town planning even of the Romans and had they learned more from the Arabs they conquered in Andalusia, this may have been less of an issue.

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Many Taino were slaughtered and many others perished in inhumane servitude, a consequence of the Spanish greed for Power and Gold.  So since they had wiped out most of the Taino, they reverted to importing Africans as slaves.  Of course they treated them just as savagely and many escaped to live with Taino in the mountains.  After only fifty years the settlers needed armed bands to travel between settlements with some safety.

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Then in Europe, the Dutch fought them for their independence and began trading with Spanish settlers on the north and west coasts of Hispaniola for salt they were excluded from.  The Administration catastrophically pulled back their settlers from these coasts to prevent this trade and opened the door to the French, who took over what is now Haiti (then called Sainte-Domingue).  Sainte-Domingue because the wealthiest corner of the Caribbean but it was built on brutal slavery and 90% of the population were slaves (6% were white and 4% free coloureds who might own slaves).

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Then of course the slaves revolted and took over all of Hispaniola for a while but if you have a tradition of authoritarian government and instability it’s not so easy to replace.  Even today, Haiti has become one of the poorest countries in the world and political stability is tenuous while the Dominican Republic, though not without problems, is in a much better place.

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Wiping out most of the Indians and introducing slavery may have seemed like a good idea at the time to some but it was quickly destructive and counter-productive to all, and authoritarian political systems create their own catastrophes sooner or later.

So what could they have done?  The basic problem was the greed, violence and intolerance of the time and that wasn’t restricted to the Spanish.  The gold was ultimately a delusion, they wasted that on unwinnable wars in Europe anyway.

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So let’s contemplate an extreme counterfactual alternative history.  First, before they turned up in the West Indies, they needed to have developed a society characterised by democracy and social justice with good planning, sewerage, medical knowledge and education for all.  Then they could have offered a partnership to the Taino Indians and if they needed additional labour, they could have offered paid employment to Africans and full citizenship of a multicultural society.  Instead of supressing the Dutch they could have negotiated independence for them and a naval partnership.  Then Hispaniola would have been likely to have had a much more successful history.

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Of course the Spain of Ferdinand and Isabella was just slightly different than that.  And it’s easy for us to say, living in a society where there is no greed, income and wealth are equitably distributed, everyone is well-educated  and we take good care of the environment.

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Hold on a sec, maybe that’s not quite right.  How will the future look on us?  Will they consider us any better or even worse?  How much and who will even be left?

We clearly need to improve in terms of arresting global warming, industrial and agricultural pollution, economic & social inequity and general overpopulation.  It all hangs in the balance and notwithstanding our individual cocoons of comfort or discomfort, it’s up to us to generate as much positive effect as we can, both collectively and as individuals.

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Wandering in Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 14 September 2016

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This morning we headed on foot to the ruined monastery of San Francisco.  Usually I show the images sequentially but since my shots of the monastery are interspersed with images from nearby streets, I have separated them out for the next post.

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

This vehicle was parked in the street right outside where we were staying, in the centre of the old city.  Its headlights are in less than perfect condition, it lacks a front bumper and numberplate, it is held together with twine, the windscreen is cracked and it has a severe case of rust.  Apart from that, it’s probably in perfect condition.  It may be that it’s not a new vehicle off the showroom floor.  I suspect you wouldn’t last very long though driving it around Canberra.

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

Just around the corner from where we were staying was an old church which we had noticed the previous day and it was open so we visited.

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

It seemed as though it must be The Church of the Working Man because of the figure at the altar.  He appears to be merely cleaning it though.

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

It is in fact Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes or the Church of Our Lady of the Mercedes and there is usually an impressively attired female figure at the altar.

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

The Señora de las Mercedes is the patron Saint of the island.  This is presumably her, off to the right of the altar, but a different representation usually stands on the altar.

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

It is one of the oldest churches in Santo Domingo, constructed between 1527 and 1555.

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

Looking up.  (Fisheye HDR).

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

It was sacked by Drake in 1586 and damaged by cyclones in the 1590s and 1628, and by an earthquake in 1615.  It was later restored though so much of it is not original.

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

Actually deciphering the Latin inscription is another thing, but this appears to be the tomb of a bishop from 1644.

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

Old buildings on the street (This one a largely corrected fisheye image).

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

The ruined monastery of San Francisco in the background.

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

This is now Calle Hostos.

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

This section features some very old workers’ cottages, protected by UNESCO listing.

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

A corner of the ruined monastery of San Francisco in the background.

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel .

Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel .