Santo Domingo is the capital of the Dominican Republic and the oldest European city in the Americas. The old city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Santo Domingo is the capital city of the Dominican Republic, and it prides itself in being the first European city in the New World. Founded by Christopher Columbus's brother Bartolome Colombus in 1496, it is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas and was the first seat of the Spanish colonial empire in the New World. For this reason, the city of Santo Domingo has a really rich historic and cultural heritage that makes any visit extremely worthwhile. Nowadays, it remains one of the most populous cities in the Central America-Caribbean area, and the main economic and commercial center of this region. The city is divided into two parts by the Ozama River. The western side is very developed economically, while the eastern part, known as "Santo Domingo Este," has historically lagged behind. The most important tourist destination of the city is the Zona Colonial or Colonial Zone, on the western bank of the river and facing the Caribbean Sea. To the west of the Zona Colonial lies Gazcue, one of the city's oldest neighborhoods, filled with old Victorian houses and tree-lined streets. The city's waterfront George Washington Avenue, knows as "El Malecon," borders the Caribbean Sea and attracts many tourists because of its hotels, casinos, palm-lined boulevards and monuments. Surrounding the Gazcue area you will find the Palacio Nacional (seat of the Dominican government), the National Theater, the Museums in the Plaza de la Cultura, and the Palace of Fine Arts.