Catedral Primada de América

Sometimes I think the site should be called “Let’s go outside” or “Let’s go somewhere” instead of “Let’s go to the museum” since the posts aren’t always museum-related, but I’m not changing it, I like what it’s called. I’m mentioning it cause once again this post is not about a museum or any of the other categories, it’s about a cathedral. I don’t plan to make a habit of visiting cathedrals and/or other religious sites, but I feel that this one is worth mentioning, so here it is…

Catedral Primada de América, located in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
(First Cathedral in the Americas)


The Catedral Primada de América is open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 5pm for touring, and for mass at 5pm Monday to Sunday. Admission is 60RD with audio guide, and 40RD without audio guide, which corresponds to about $1.50 and $1, respectively. (If you can read Spanish, you can go without the audio guide as there are labels and texts around, otherwise get an audio guide to learn more about the cathedral). The admission booth is located outside of the cathedral (I think it’s on the Calle Isabel la Católica side of the cathedral), just ask the security guards around if you can’t find it or go to the entrance and the employees will most likely point you in the right direction to buy tickets. The cathedral is located in the Zona Colonial, so it’s easily accessible by foot if you are already there, otherwise take a taxi. The cathedral has a dress code; shorts, tank tops, and skirts and dresses that fall above the knee are not permitted. Remember to dress appropriately, but should you forget, the employees will loan you a blanket or shawl to cover any exposed parts.

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The Catedral Primada de América, also known as the Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, is the oldest cathedral in operation in the Americas. Work on the cathedral began in 1514, and wasn’t completed until 1540. Various architects were involved with the cathedral, hence the cathedral has elements of Gothic, Baroque and Plateresque architectural styles. In addition to the magnificent outer structure, the cathedral contains an awe-inspiring vaulted ceiling, a main altar and 14 interior chapels. (When you step inside the cathedral, it feels as if you are transported to a different place and time, words aren’t enough to describe how impressive the cathedral is.) The 14 interior chapels are dedicated to different religious icons, and contains paintings, old woodwork, furniture and/or sculptures. One of the chapels is specially used for worship only, and has a no photography policy, (so be respectful and don’t take infringe on others religious rights).

My travel buddy and I spent approximately 45 minutes at the cathedral. The audio guide is about 20 minutes long, and contains enough information to allow visitors to get an understanding on the cathedral and the chapels. (The audio guide has more than one line descriptions for each recording, so I was satisfied with it.) The interior of the cathedral really is beautiful, so other visitors may take more time, but others may spend less. (We would’ve stayed longer, but we didn’t arrive till late, and had to leave since it was almost 5pm. Even my travel buddy, who wasn’t too enthusiastic about the Dominican Republic trip, enjoyed the cathedral and wanted to stay longer.) Anyone interested in architecture will enjoy all the cathedral has to offer. Casual visitors, even non-religious folks, would most likely enjoy a visit; the only ones that will probably not enjoy as much are families with younger children as there isn’t anything to entertain the younger crowd. The cathedral truly is a spectacle to behold, so if you are in the Dominican Republic, make your way to the Zona Colonial, and take in the grandeur that is the Catedral Primada de América.


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