Santiago in Dominican
Republic is a very important province in the country. This province can
be found in the north area of the Dominican Republic. The place is
surrounded by the province of Puerto Plata to the north, the provinces
of Valverde and Santiago Rodriguez to the west, the provinces of San
Juan and La Vega to the south and to the east the province of
Espaillat. Santiago consists of 9 mayor towns which are: Janico, Villa
Bisono, Villa Gonzales, Tamboril, Licey, San Jose de las Matas,
Santiago de los Caballeros, Punal and Sabana Iglesia. Among all these
towns Santiago de los Caballeros is known to be popular one.
Santiago is also the name
of the one known to be the
second most important city in the Dominican Republic only surpassed by
the capital Santo Domingo.
The city is one of the main destinations of many tours that originate from other well known Dominican areas like Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo and Punta Cana.
The Cibao international airport also known as the Santiago airport is located there and is a relevant access point to the other important cities and the Samana peninsula. Santiago is not only big but is also a major commercial center in the Dominican Republic. The tobacco and the agriculture industry are known to be biggest industries in the area.
Unlike the other previously mentioned cities Santiago is not
near the coast as the area is surrounded by mountains. These mountains
have protected the area from the rage of hurricanes that have gone
through it in the past.
Santiago in Dominican Republic should not be mistaken with
Spanish speaking cities that have a similar name. This city is very old
and was named by Christopher Columbus around 1495. Originally this city
was located near the Yaque River but later it was relocated near the
Jacagua River. Sometime after that around 1506 it was relocated once
more to the present location due to an earthquake.
The actual name of the city is Santiago de los 30 caballeros; the reason for the name is that thirty Spanish knights were the inhabitants of the city in the census taken near the year 1514. These knights were quite upset with the conditions they had to deal with in the colony. According to the knights testimony their weapons were taken away and were forced to do manual labor which was considered to be demeaning to their status as the sole purpose of the knights is to participate in battles and not in common tasks. The king was sympathetic with their plea and restored everything that was taken from them.
This city also played a very important role in the independence of the country. It was the capital city of the country during the “Guerra de la Restauracion” and was the scenario of important ancient battles like the “Batalla de Santiago” and “Batalla del 30 de marzo” which consolidated the independence of the country.
There are several things that you can see in Santiago. One of
the most memorable visuals is the monument
called “monumento a los heroes de la restauracion”. Originally called
“monumento a la paz de Trujillo” the master piece was erected by the
orders of the famous dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. Once the
dictator was assassinated the name of the monument was changed to its
actual name, in remembrance of the independence obtained from Spain in
the “Guerra de la Restauracion”. This construction is located at the
entrance of the city and is approximately 70 meters high. In the inside
you can find several murals created by the Spanish painter Vela
Zanetti. There are approximately 365 steps all the way to the top.
The Tomas Morel museum is another must to visit in the Santiago area. In the museum you can appreciate artifacts from the early colonial times plus several masks typically used for the carnival festivities. The carnival at Santiago is another must to visit. The celebrations include people dressing as characters invented by the town’s citizens and walking down the street dancing around.
The Cathedral of Santiago is another architecture masterpiece you have to admire. If you love antique forts the San Luis Fort Museum should not be missed.
You cannot miss the theater called “Gran Teatro del Cibao”. This incredible construction located in Santiago in Dominican Republic is made of marble and is the scenario for several national and international artists. If you love shopping and getting souvenirs you have to go “El mercado modelo”. This is a shopping area where you can get all kinds of manually designed crafts for a low price.
Another popular attraction is the Tobacco museum; this place
exhibits the different methodologies used to produce the highest
quality tobacco and how this product has impacted the economical
development of the town.
One of the oldest and most interesting traditions in the city is carriages pulled by horses. Long ago they were used as a means of transportation but now are the reminders of old times. These carriages are located near Colon park, in front the Cibao Theater. Getting around Santiago in Dominican Republic can be a bit tricky but fortunately for you there are many alternatives. You can rent a car for 40 to 100 USD per day but you must know there are certain requirements needed like a driver’s license, credit cards and passport. That alternative is not recommended if is your first time in the Dominican Republic as getting used to their way of driving can be a tough job. A cheaper and safer choice is to use a bus or guagua. A trip in a bus can cost from 1 to 10 dollars and it travels to the known places in town.