This was originally the residence of Hernán Cortés, conqueror of the Aztecs in present-day central Mexico. It was in this building that Cortés is believed to have organized his triumphant – and brutal – expedition. While visitors are not permitted past the lobby, this marvel of masonry is worth a walk by, if only to check out its facade.
Although the Casa de Francia served as a residence for nearly three centuries, it has had several incarnations since the beginning of the 19th century: a set of government offices, the Banco Nacional de Santo Domingo, a civil courthouse and the headquarters of the Dominican IRS. Today it houses the French embassy. It was built in the early 16th century and shares many elements with the Museo de las Casas Reales. Experts theorize that these buildings were designed by the same master; both have a flat facade and a double bay window in the upper and lower stories, repeating patterns of doors and windows on both floors, and top-notch stone rubblework masonry around the windows, doors and corner shorings.