Fortaleza Ozama

sights / Historic

Fortaleza Ozama information

Santo Domingo , Dominican Republic
Las Damas
+1 809 686 0222
admission RD$70
Opening hours
9am-6:30pm Mon-Sat, to 4pm Sun
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This is the oldest colonial military edifice in the New World. The site of the fort – at the meeting of the Río Ozama and the Caribbean – was selected by Fray Nicolás de Ovando. Construction of the fortification began in 1502 under the direction of master builder Gómez García Varela and continued in various stages for the next two centuries. Over the course of its history the fort has flown the flag of Spain, England, France, Haiti, Gran Columbia, the US and the DR. Until the 1970s, when it was opened to the public, it served as a military garrison and prison.

Near the door you’ll find several guides (Spanish, English and French spoken, sometimes German and Italian). Be sure to agree on a fee in advance – around US$3.50 per person for a 20-minute tour.

As soon as you walk into the site, you’ll see the oldest of the buildings here: the impressive Torre del Homenaje (Tower of Homage). Its 2m-thick walls contain dozens of riflemen’s embrasures and its roof-top lookout offers 360-degree views of the city. To its right, solid and windowless, stands El Polvorín – the Powder House – which was added in the mid-1700s; look for the statue of St Barbara (the patron saint of the artillery) over the door.

Running along the fort's riverside wall are two rows of cannons: the first dates from 1570, the second was added in the mid-1600s. Both served as the first line of defense for the city’s port. The living quarters, now almost completely destroyed, were added along the city-side wall in the late 1700s. On the esplanade is a bronze statue of Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, perhaps the best-known military chronicler of the New World.