In the Dominican Republic, especially in the city of Santo Domingo, there is a large number of ancient ruins whose historical value is priceless.
Punta Cana as a tourist destination is not a very organic place to say, the great natural attractions of the area are the beaches and nature, but in Punta Cana, there are no ancient ruins.
Punta Cana is a tourist destination with a relatively recent development, you will not find pyramids or ancient ruins, however, some cities and places around Punta Cana, are relatively close, have ancient ruins and caves with great historical value that are worth visiting and knowing.
The city of Santo Domingo was established by the Spanish colonizers in 1496, after the village of La Isabela was created, thus being the first city founded in what was known as the “new world”.
The structures and buildings built by the Spaniards were made with large pieces of masonry and stones, often brought from Europe.
1-Ruins of San Francisco, the first church built in America
The complex that today are the Ruins of San Francisco in the city of Santo Domingo, generated in colonial times one of the main environments of activity of the historical Santo Domingo, being a structure of religious character formed by the Monastery, the Chapel of the Franciscan Third Order and the Church.
Several earthquakes, the departure of the Order in the 19th century, looting, conversion to an insane asylum in the 20th century, and abandonment for more than a hundred years have sent the first church and monastery complex built in the Americas into oblivion.
2-Pyramid of Valle Nuevo
Ok, I don’t want to create false expectations or any “tourist trap”, the pyramid of Valle Nuevo is not really an ancient ruin, the reason to put it in this topic is that it really gives the “vibe” of being something ancient, besides, the visit to this place is totally recommendable for the different experiences and the beauty of the valley.
The cyclopean pyramid located in the Valle de Los Frailes (called “La Nevera” because of the cold weather), is one of the most visited places in Valle Nuevo.
Although it has been speculated to be an ancient structure, in reality, the pyramid was built by the engineer and architect Julio Hernández Santelises in 1957 in gratitude to Rafael Leonidas Trujillo (dictator of the Dominican Republic for several decades) for the construction of the José Durán highway, which links Constanza and San José de Ocoa.
The pyramid is located 339 km away from Punta Cana, about 5 and a half hours by bus.
The pyramid is located 144 km away from Santo Domingo, about 3 hours and a half by bus.
3-Engombe ruins, Santo Domingo
These ruins consist of a large two-story house made of stone and a chapel, this place was a mill of the colonial era of Santo Domingo and its surroundings are still traces of the mill.
Of the entire property, the large two-story house and the chapel stand out, the only ones in the whole complex that have been restored. Both structures were built in stone, being the chapel the only one whose roof has been restored. They are currently in a good state of preservation.
Apart from the ruins, there is a large lake in front with a beautiful view and a large green area, it is truly a spectacular and hidden place in Santo Domingo.
The ruins of Engombe are 205 km away from Punta Cana, 2 hours and 45 minutes by bus.
4-Lettered Stones, Constanza
The lettered stones are a stone monolith on whose surface the aborigines wrote their beliefs in the Taino language.
It is quite an experience to walk slowly around its gigantic rocks carved with petroglyphs of Taino faces. Few Dominicans and foreigners know of an indigenous treasure that represents a unique Caribbean heritage of the country.
The lettered stones is located at an altitude of more than 1,635 meters, some 18 kilometers along a dirt road in the Ciénaga de Los Bermúdez northwest of Constanza.
Ancient buildings plundered by pirates (Interesting story)
The city of Santo Domingo has had traumatic experiences, such as the invasion of the English corsair Francis Drake in 1586. Then the town was sacked and partially burned for a month, and the cathedral was converted into a barracks used by the foreigners.
When the corsairs were taking down the bells, to carry them away, one of them fell on the roof of the sacristy, which was vaulted, and broke a part of it, for which it was later rebuilt in beams and bricks.
Drake and his hosts took the bells of the churches, the artillery of the fortress, and the hides and sugars stored in the port and in other warehouses, as well as the ships that had not been burned.
The city was plunged into disaster and poverty, with a good part of its temples desecrated and plundered.