1. Sacred Destinations
  2. Dominican Republic
  3. Santo Domingo
  4. Santo Domingo Cathedral

Santo Domingo Cathedral

Exterior view of Santo Domingo Cathedral. View all images in our Santo Domingo Cathedral Photo Gallery.
Representing the old and new world. Photo © polytikus.
Closer look at the portal, by night. Photo © N i c o_.
Photo © polytikus.
Wall paintings in a chapel. Photo © polytikus.
Photo © polytikus.

This article was contributed by Lewis White of Lowcostholidays.com.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is recognised as the Americas’ oldest Cathedral dating back to 1512. As the first Cathedral in the new world it holds much significance, remaining one of the Dominican Republic’s most visited attractions and held in high regard throughout the Caribbean. The Cathedral is also contentiously known as the resting place of famed explorer Christopher Colombus, with on-going disagreements between Spain and the Dominican Republic on where the remains of the illustrious navigator lay! The building consists of a mixture of architectural styles, with its exterior showing many facets of the Renaissance period and its interior markedly Gothic in design.


Santo Domingo Cathedral was first commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1504, with definitive construction starting eight years later in 1512. Dedicated to St Mary of the Incarnation, the prestigious building’s construction continued under the stewardship of a group of religious leaders. Bishop Fray Garcia Padilla oversaw proceedings until 1521, with Bishop Alexander Geraldini then said to have given greater emphasis to the project leading to consecration in 1541. The Cathedral was also once the headquarters of Sir Francis Drake, the famed English ‘Pirate’ who looted Santo Domingo in 1586, adding to the intrigue around the holy building.

What to See

With a remarkable amount of history surrounding the Cathedral, there is a varied amount to see and do when visiting. Tours in and around the Cathedral are regularly held, with complete access granted to the interior, exterior and extended grounds. Inside visitors can explore the beautiful architecture whilst there is also an extended art collection which includes furnishings, jewellery, silver and wood carvings. The main portal is home to a magnificent 2 and a half ton built to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America.

Situated adjacent to the Plaza de Colon square visitors can also explore the cultural heritage of the Dominican’s capital city, where a bronze statue of Christopher Colombus overlooks the picturesque square. The Plaza de Colon square is in Ciudad Colonial, the oldest permanent European settlement in the New World and a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known as a town of ‘firsts’ guests can explore the original Monastery, University and Hospitals that still exist today.

Quick Facts on Santo Domingo Cathedral

Site Information
Names:Basílica Catedral Metropolitana Santa María de la Ecarnación Primada de América; Catedral Basilica Menor de Santa Maria; Catedral Primada de America; Cathedral of Santa María la Menor; St. Mary of the Incarnation
City:Santo Domingo
Country:Dominican Republic
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Coordinates:18.473046° N, 69.883904° W  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Santo Domingo Cathedral

Below is a location map and aerial view of Santo Domingo Cathedral. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.

More Information

Article Info

Title:Santo Domingo Cathedral
Author:Lewis White
Last updated:April 29, 2013
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/dominican-republic/santo-domingo-cathedral/dominican-republic/santo-domingo-cathedral">Santo Domingo Cathedral</a>