Caribbean Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo
Old cathedral

A brief description.

Christopher Columbus
landed on Môle St. Nicholas (now Haitian territory) on 6 December 1492, then, passing along the north coast of the island to the Bay of Samana, landed again and penetrated inland as far as the summit of Santo Cerro (Holy Hill), where, looKing down upon the magnificent upland plain which he named La Vega Real, he planted a wooden cross to commemorate his discovery.


The first Spanish settlement, Isadora, was on the north coast.

But in 1496, when Miguel Dias reported to the admiral the existence of much gold in and about the Hayna River, as well as the remarkable salubrity of the country of the Ozamas, on the south coast, Isabella, which had been found unhealthy, was abandoned. On the mouth of the Ozamas River, and on its left bank, Bartolomé Colón began the settlement of Nueva Isabella, which was not long afterwards replaced by Santo Domingo, on the opposite bank.


The first cathedral.
The Dominicans built
on the south coast of the Island, in Santo Dominigo, a wooden church in 1502. But the Spanish Kings ordered to build a cathedral in the capital of the New World on 25 Mai 1510. The Spanish architect Alonso Rodriguez sailed with thirteen workers to Hispaniola on 13 June 1510, but the workers refused to work for so little money and travelled with Rodriguez to Mexico to build a cathedral in Mexico-city.

The Holy See subscripted the decree to establish the diocese Santo Domingo, the city Santo Domingo and the cathedral ‘ïn honorem Santi Dominici’, and appointed as first Bishop Garcia de Padílla (1512-1515) in Burgos on 12 Mai 1512.


Don Alexandre Geraldini (1516-1524), second Bishop of Santo Domingo and its Roman patriarch, conceived the construction of the Cathedral as an impressive symbol of the Catholic Church in the New World. Newly arrived from Spain, and with an impressive family heritage, the Bishop assumed the task of raising funds to build a temple worthy of its quality. He complained to the Spanish monarch, Charles V, that the island's "Episcopal temple is built with tree and palm branches, and well as grass.”


The second cathedral.

Spain began the construction of the Basilica Catedral of Our Lady of Incarnation, with the foundation-stone by Bishop Geraldini, on 26 March 1521. 

The architects were Louis de Moya and Rodrigo Gil de Liendo. Three years later, and after the death of Geraldini (1524), construction of the Cathedral was halted. Also, the raids carried out by the pirate Francis Drake constituted one of the saddest episodes ever faced by the temple during its construction phase. The pirate attacked Santo Domingo and raided the Cathedral, taKing with him irreplaceable treasures. He topped off the destruction by burning important documents and manuscripts.


In 1541, 20 years after construction began, the Cathedral was finally finished, about 200 feet in length by 90 in width, with three naves and two of its chapels are Gothic in style. The Cathedral's main entrance represents the plateresque architectural style of the Castile region of Spain. The characteristics of this particularly style developed during the Renaissance, and is characterized by its love for rich decoration. The rest of the structure corresponds to the Gothic style.

Once inside, the main chapel and its impressive window stand out, also built in the Gothic style. In the choir area, seven children sing the notes of the old musical scale.

Experts coincide in pointing out that the Chapel of Santa Ana is the most perfect example of Renaissance architecture in all of Santo Domingo. Built around 1535, the Chapel features an orange colour dome and its walls are covered with blue tiles. The Chapel was built in honour of the Cathedral's founder, Bishop Geraldini, who conceived it inspired by the marble tomb of his mother, in his native Italy.

In this cathedral the remains of several members of the Columbus family -- and possibly even of the great admiral himself -- still repose; here, too, is still reverently preserved a fragment of the cross which Columbus set up on Santo Cerro, and about which miraculous legends have grown up in the course of four centuries.

The cathedral was consecrated by Mgr Alonso de Fuenmayor, Bishop 1533-1538, ArchBishop 1545-1554, on 2 February 1546. On 12 February 1547 Pope Paul III made San Domingo the metropolitan see of the New World. The bell-tower was founded in 1543, but stopped by military order in 1547 and never finished.





The lily-weapon of the Dominican Order

under the first coat of arms of Santo Domingo.


Dominican Republic 1993, Mi 1683, Sc 1144.










44th Anniversary of the Latin Union

with the Latin text of the foundation-stone

by Bishop Geraldini.


D(eo) - M(aximo)


civis romanus

                                    ex umbria natus secundus
                                   epus (episcopus)-dominici
                                 apud indios occids (dentalis).
                             MDXVI (1516) - MDXXIV (1524)


Dominican Republic 1998, Mi 1895, Sc 1284.



The first chuirch in America, according to
the catalogue if Michel and Scott.

Dominican Republik 1931, Mi 242, Sc 262.








Cathedral of Santo Domingo, dedicated
to St.Dominic de Guzmán.

Dominican Republic 1936? Postcard.









  Dominican Republic 1933, Mi 276, Sc 267.








                                        Dominican Republic 1978,
                                        Mi 1182,1183; Sc C265, 266.










The Cathedral in Santo Domingo.

Visit by Pope John Paul II in January 1979.


Dominican Republic 1979,  cover 26.01.1979.








  Front of the Cathedral
  with Pope John Paul II.

   Dominican Republic 1992,
  Mi 1652, Sc 1122.





                         500th Anniversary of the first Cathedral in America.

                                 Dominican Republic 1998, Mi 1890, Sc 1279.





The cathedral and the portrait of Josemaria Escrivá de Balaguer.


Dominican Republic 2002, Mi 2053, Sc --.








Air letter of the visit by John Paul II
to Santo Domingo on 25 January 1979.
The Pope before the cathedral.


Vatican City 1979.








Visit by Pope John Paul II on 10-13 October
1984 in the Dominican Republic.


Vatican City 1984. KimCover PW 396.









The bell tower of the cathedral


  The bell-tower of the Cathedral was built

  in 1543, but stopped by military order

  in 1547 and is never finished.



                Dominican Republic 1982, Mi 1349, Sc C36.>




See above: Dominican Republic 1931, Mi 242, Sc 262.







The interior of the cathedral



Visit by Pope John Paul II on 9-10 October 1992.

On this souvenir-card the high altar of the Cathedral Santo Domingo
in Santo Domingo. In the front the statues of the founders of the orders,
who evangelized in the Dominican Republic.

At the left of St Dominic (Dominicans) and St. Francis (Franciscans).
On the right St. Ignace of Loyola (Jesuits) and St. Peter Nolasco (Mercedarians).


Vatican City 1993, Mi 1103. Sc 938.





Mausoleum of Christopher Columbus in the Cathedral
by Fernando Romao
and the sculptor Pedro Carbonell in1898.   

                                Dominican Republic 1988, Mi Bl 43, Sc 1039. >>>>


   Columbus' Mausoleum

  in the Cathedral of Santo Domingo.


  Dominican Republic 1899, Mi 76, Sc 109.








ArchBishop Fernando Arturo de Meriño (1833-1906),

buried in the Cathedral.


Dominican Republic 1933, Mi 269, Sc 269.








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