SANTIAGO

The “heart city”, industrial and farm production center, culture, gastronomy, carnival, cigars, grassroots meringue, university city, medical tourism…
The first city in the Americas to be given the same of Santiago, it was founded in 1495 by Bartolomé Colón, brother of Admiral Christopher Columbus. In 1508, the court of Spain named the city Santiago de los Caballeros, in honor of its 30 founding noblemen. It is the country’s second largest city, with 600,000 inhabitants. It is also known as “the Heart City” for its central geographical location.

Getting There

The Santiago International Cibao Airport (STI) is located 20 minutes south of the city center. It is served by the following airlines:

USA: New York (American, Delta, JetBlue), Boston (Jetblue), Miami (American), Fort Lauderdale (Spirit).

Central America: Panamá (Copa).

Caribbean: San Juan, Puerto Rico (American Eagle), Port-au-Prince, Haiti (Mas), and Providenciales, Turks & Caicos (Air Turks and Caicos).

Santiago is less than an hour’s drive from Puerto Plata International Airport (POP) and less than two hours by highway from Santo Domingo.

Caribe Tours and Metro buses travel on the hour to Santiago from La Vega, Puerto Plata, Samana and Santo Domingo with connections to other major cities nationwide.

Attractions

The Monument to the Héroes of the Restoration was built in 1944 by dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo to commemorate the 100th anniversary of national independence. Until his death it was known as Monument to the peace of Trujillo.

Today, a museum displays photos of the War of Restoration 1863-1865, the battle Dominicans fought against the Spanish army for the restoration of the republic. This 70-meter high tower, located at the highest point in the city, is partially covered by marble. People flock to enjoy the views and artistic performances, especially in the evenings.

Historic center. The European neoclassicist style can be observed in the Palacio consistorial, built by a Belgian architect from 1892 to 1895. The Victorian era left its mark on Santiago’s heritage with several city center residences built in this elegant style.

Centro Cultural León. Opened in 2003 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the E. León Jimenes company, the country’s leading beer and cigar manufacturer. Its permanent exhibition, Identity, Genesis and Path is regarded as the best for an insight into the roots, heritage and cultural identity of the Dominican people.

The center constantly holds temporary exhibitions and events. The permanent exhibitions include rolling cigars by hand, located in a replica of the original factory on the premises, across a garden.

Centro Cultural de Santiago. Santiago city’s fine arts center with exhibitions of painting and sculpture, and drama, ballet and concerts.

Hospital Metropolitano (HOMS). Medical tourism has boomed now with the modern facilities at the HOMS, centrally located in Santiago. Annual medical check-up programs are popular. City dentists are also in much demand by foreigners who seek quality services at competitive prices.

PUCMM. Santiago is a university city. The leading campus is of the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra right in the city.

Estadio Cibao. To be at a Cibao Stadium baseball game between hometown Aguilas Cibaenas to visit team is reason enough to visit the city. The stadium is centrally located and easily reached by taxi driver to the game. Games begin at 7:30pm from mid-October to the end of January.

Bonao. One hour south of Santiago on the Duarte Highway. This city is known for its culture. Visit the Plaza de la Cultura Cándido Bidó, a museum-art gallery, with many large murals by the late artist. The Casa  Museo Cristian Tiburcio is described as the reincarnation of Guadi in the Caribbean. Cristian Tiburcio took his family home and converted it into an eclectic museum where every wall, staircase, window, the bathroom, bed and even the kitchen cabinets have become colorful works of art. Típico Bonao on the highway, with two branches in both the south and north direction, is a popular stop for Dominican food. On Sundays in February, the Bonao Carnival competes with the carnivals of Santiago and La Vega for the carnival crowds.

Salcedo. The Route of the Murals leads to the city, less than an hour’s drive from Santiago. An hour to the northeast, the route to salcedo is lined by large murals painted on fences, walls and gateways leading into and out of the city. In addition, the draw of the town is the Museo de las Hermanas Mirabal that honors the memory of the three heroic sisters murdered by order of dictator Trujillo in 1960. 25 November celebrates the International Day for the Ellimination of Violence Against Women, commemorating the brutal crime.

Golf

Las Aromas, Santiago Golf Club. Santiago de los Caballeros • Tel  809 264-0054. Opened: 1980 • 18 holes, par 70. Located in the hills of the outskirts of Santiago, with lovly panoramic views of the city and the Yaque del Norte River.

CULTURE

Grassroots Ranches. Santiago is the capital of grassroots meringue. This “country-style” music resulted from a mix of cultures – from Germany, the accordion, from Africa, the drum. The people of the cibao are passionate about this music, also known as “perico ripiao”. There are large “typical ranches” where people take dancing seriously: Rancho Merengue, Típico La Tinaja, Rancho Típico las Colunas, dizzy Ranch and La Rancheta de Chito.

Carnival

On Sundays in February, men parade dressed in the traditional costume of a fantasy creature that combines a court jester’s outfit with a duck’s face and long cattle horns. Other carnival characters include troupes commemorating the first battle between the Indians and the Spanish colonizers, death, and many more. The processions take place along the Avenida Las Carreteras to the Monument. The Museo Folklórico Tomás Morel has traditional carnival masks on display.

Nightlife

The Gran Teatro Regional del Cibao is for fine arts presentations and leadng national and international performances, the Gran Arena Cibao is for more popular performances and sports. But Santiago is best known for its grassroots meringue ranches and there is busy activity at its many discos, as it is a university town. Alcoholic drinks are sold at nightspots only to midnight on weekdays, with crowds making the most of weekends when the curfew is extended to around 3am at many establishment.

Shopping

Larger shopping centers include Multicentro La Sirena, Supermercado Nacional, Jumbo, Pricemart, Bella Terra mall, Calle del Sol, Colinas Mall and Plaza International.

Cigars

The cigar capital of the Dominican republic is Santiago, where most of the factories are based. They include Fuente (Arturo Fuente, Diamond Crown, Fuente Fuente OpusX, Maximus, Hemingway, Cuesta-Rey, Don Carlos), Matasa (Fonseca, Cubita, José Benito, Casablanca, Licenciados, la Primera, Royal Dominicana, Ricos Dominicanos), La Aurora and Tabadom Holding (Davidoff).

 

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