Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor, Santo Domingo

This article was contributed by Lewis White of

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.


History of Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor

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 at Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor

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 Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor

Site Information
Names:Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor
Country:Dominican Republic
Dedication: St. Mary of the Incarnation
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:18.473046° N, 69.883904° W
Address:Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Hours:Mon-Sat 9am-4:30pm
Lodging:View hotels near Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

More Information

Representing the old and new world. © polytikus
Prueba de la cámara de mi celular Sony W380. / Testing my Sony W380 mobile camera. ... © N i c o_
© polytikus
© polytikus
© polytikus

Map of Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor, Santo Domingo

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