Ruinas del Hospital San Nicolás de Barí

Santo Domingo

Standing next to the bright, white Iglesia de la Altagracia are the ruins of the New World’s first hospital. They remain as a monument to Governor Nicolás de Ovando, who ordered the hospital built in 1503. So sturdy was the edifice that it survived Drake’s invasion and centuries of earthquakes and hurricanes. It remained virtually intact until it was devastated by a hurricane in 1911, and public-works officials ordered much of it knocked down so that it wouldn’t pose a threat to pedestrians.

Today visitors can still see several of its high walls and Moorish arches. Note that the hospital’s floor plan follows the form of a Latin cross.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Santo Domingo attractions

1. Parque Colón

0.12 MILES

Beside the Catedral Primada de América, this historic park contains several trees and a large statue of Admiral Columbus himself. It’s the meeting place…

2. Plaza de María de Toledo

0.14 MILES

Named in honor of Diego Columbus’ wife, this plaza connecting Las Damas and Isabel la Católica features two arches that were once part of the Jesuits’…

3. Casa del Cordón

0.15 MILES

Said to be not only one of the first European residences in the Americas, but also one of the first residences in the Western hemisphere with two floors,…

4. Catedral Primada de América

0.15 MILES

The first stone of this cathedral, the oldest standing in the Western hemisphere, was set in 1514 by Diego Columbus, son of the great explorer (the ashes…

5. Panteón Nacional

0.15 MILES

Built in 1747 as a Jesuit church, this was also a tobacco warehouse and a theater before dictator Trujillo restored it in 1958 for its current use as a…

6. Casa de Francia

0.16 MILES

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…

7. Monasterio de San Francisco

0.17 MILES

The first monastery in the New World belonged to the first order of Franciscan friars who arrived to evangelize the island. Dating from 1508, the…

8. Museo de las Casas Reales

0.18 MILES

Built in the Renaissance style during the 16th century, this building was the longtime seat of Spanish authority for the Caribbean region, housing the…