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Dominican Republic: A unique and endless destination throughout the world.

The Southern Region
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English Español

Frances italiano

English Español

Frances italiano

Towards the Southern Region

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Should time permit, a visit to the south would be worthwhile. Although it is possible to make the trip from Santo Domingo (200Km., N 2) in three hours, it will be much more enjoyable to take at least four days, especially if you are driving. The panoramic view from the coastal highway is breath-taking.

The following are short descriptions on the four provinces that welcome you on your journey through the region where the first quest for freedom was uttered under American skies. See page 67, Getting Around in the City.

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San Cristóbal

Located 28 km west of Santo Domingo, it is one of the region's most visited cities by those who wish to learn more about the events related to the dictatorship of Trujillo who ruled the country with an iron hand from August 16, 1930 to May 30, 1961.

It is believed that the city's name was taken from the nearby San Cristóbal Fortress that Admiral Don Christopher (Cristóbal) Columbus had built on the Haina river's bank. In 1934 it was raised to the status of a province, and in 1939 by Act. 93, it was given the title of "Ciudad Benemérita," (Meritorious City, a title that disappeared when the regime was overthrown) taking into consideration that the first legal constitution of the Dominican Republic had been signed there and that it was the birthplace of the "benefactor of the country," father of the new country, Generalissimo Doctor Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina. The title of the civil guard city disappeared with the assassination of the tyrant.

We suggest an itinerary that include a visit to the Church of San Cristóbal, the Palacio del Cerro, La Casa de Caoba, the Cuevas de El Pomier or de Borbón, a national treasure where there are hundreds of cave paintings created by the Indians that populated the island, el Balneario La Toma and the Cuevas de Santa María (Santa Maria Caves), where patronal festivals are celebrated with baile de palo and atabales (drum festivals), pointers to the African influence in Dominican folklore.

Also, its coasts have the beautiful beaches of Najayo, Nigua, and Palenque, with their crystalline waters that are ideal for the enjoyment of underwater fishing, and Loma de Resolí, where the climate is pleasantly cool year-round.

The carabiné, typical dance of the southern region, variant of the Canary iza, reigns over San Cristóbal's patronal festivities, celebrated from June 6-10, dedicated to the Holy Spirit.

Peravia

dunassalinasThe capital of the province, Baní, city of poets, was named in honor of the cacique Baní, a subordinate of Caonabo, said to have a clear intelligence. In Juan de Castellanos' words, "...Bani was a wise man... Captain General of Caonabo's land." In Taíno, Baní means "abundance of water."

This hardworking community that under the chieftainship of Maguána is located 66 km from Santo Domingo on route N 2. See map of Getting Around in the City on page 67.

Born here on November 18, 1836, was Generalissimo Máximo Gómez, liberator of Cuba, and the most admired and venerated Dominican in the land of José Martí, because he made Cuban independence his cause.

You can visit the place where Generalissimo Máximo Gómez lived, the municipal museum, the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Regla, Los Almendros, an inviting white sand beach with a residential complex designed to offer tourist services and, Palmar de Ocoa, a beautiful summer resort, located in the bay of the same name, where each year fishing tournaments are held.

In Puerto Hermoso (Beautiful Port) are the salt deposits that according to experts have the capacity to "fill the Caribbean region with salt."

The Bahía de Calderas, located before crossing the province's limits, is home to the Dominican Navy's most important naval base. Its strategic geographical position and the surrounding sand dunes offer natural protection.

mangosbanilejosDon't leave Peravia without trying, among other things, the delicious goat milk candy produced in the Húngaro factory in the municipality of Paya, the only one of its kind in the country; the famous quails that are served in the rural dining room located on the side of the highway and the famous mango banilejo (mango from Baní), a variety of the Rosa mango that when harvested in the Peravia Valley, acquires a peculiar, exquisite taste worth trying.

Its patronal festivities are from June 15 to 24, festivities in honor of San Juan, and November 21, the feast of Nuestra Señora de Regla.

Azua de Compostela

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Azua, a land burned by the strong rays of our blazing tropical sun but also washed by the outpouring of its melodious crystalline waters of the Caribbean, is located 121 km west of Santo Domingo. See page 67, Leaving the City.

Azua de Compostela was founded in 1504 by Diego Velázquez, Conquistador of Cuba. On December 7, 1508, King Ferdinand of Spain granted Azua his coat of arms, and in 1845 it was raised to the status of a province.

It was razed to the ground on three occasions by invading armies: Juan Jacobo Dessalines, who declared Haiti independence on January 1, 1804, ordered his men to set it ablaze when he invaded Dominican territory in 1805. In 1844, after the Haitian leader Charles Herald was defeated at the Battle of 19 de Marzo, he set the city aflame as he passed through Azua. Yet again in 1849, the Haitian president, Faustino Soulouque, left the city smoldering as he retreated from his defeats at the battles of El Número and Las Carreras.

If you are going to continue the trip, you must make a stop to stretch your legs and to drink "una fría" (the country's famous Presidente beer frosted at its best). You can visit the Archeological Museum, an interesting display of cave art and then refresh yourself in the beautiful Playa Blanca.

Azua natives are deservedly well-known for being courageous noblemen and having contributed many writers to Dominican literature. In Pueblo Viejo, near Azua, are found the ruins of the colonial city.

lascaritasazuaAnother attraction for native and foreign visitors enjoying adventure tourism is El Número, the place where the battle bearing the same name took place. It is exciting to travel the winding stretch of highway where at every turn of the road dangerous cliffs await. However, the fabulous panoramic view from here of Corbanito's tourist area on the east coast of the beautiful and placid Ocoa Bay, compensates for the road, and serves as a spiritual sedative during the journey.

Corbanito is an area that comprises around 9 km of extraordinarily beautiful beaches due to the topographical characteristics

f the surroundings, created by rock formations of the southern massif emerging from the calm sea. Corbanito is an open cove of some three kilometers of gray sand

nd turquoise-blue waters, with shallow areas for swimming and protecting reefs.

Here we find Palmar de Ocoa, an open beach of gray sand and deep waters, with an exotic panorama and rich marine fauna making it an excellent spot for sportfishing.

Playa Chiquita, as its name indicates, is an open cove barely 1500 meters long with gray sand and crystalline waters, a medium-depth swimming area that is absent of waves, that make it a secluded, beautiful spot preferred by swimmers.

Next we come to Monte Río, the beautiful beach where Hernán Cortés, who practiced in Azua as a clerk, usually spent his leisure hours; and he left from here, together with Diego Velázquez, to the land of the Eagle and the Serpent to ascend to the throne and wear the imperial crown of Moctezuma.

Azua's patronal feast is on September 8th in honor of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios.

Barahona

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Leaving Azua, we notice a marked contrast as we enter Barahona's humid land whose neutral-type coasts are tied together like a string of pearls by beautiful beaches that the waves kiss and abandon in the massif of the Sierra de Bahoruco.

Barahona, where the cacica Anacaona ruled and where the living legend of the untamable Enriquillo survives as a symbol of Indian rebellion against white man's injustice, is located 204 km west of Santo Domingo. See p.67, Leaving the City.

This was founded in 1802 by the French General Toussaint Louverture and set up as province in 1907.

The Barahona peninsula, which belonged to the chieftainship of Jaragua, has emersion and immersion coasts where the marine terrace stretches with the shallow waters that result in wonderful breeding places for fish and crustaceans.

The beaches of Barahona, La Saladilla, San Rafael, Los Patos, Paraíso and other very beautiful sunny beaches surrounding the peninsula are characterized by a peaceful solitude, making Barahona an exclusive, unique place for the communion of the human spirit with the Supreme Being. Here you observe and are captivated by the presence of God's hand.

This paradisiacal coast was the location chosen by the Dominican designer Oscar de la Renta for the tropical-setting photographs that travel the world in the most famous international fashion magazines. This coast also served as the setting for the adventures of the past century's bold pirate, Cofresí, a legendary figure amongst the dwellers of the southern coast of the Dominican Republic.

Local lore has it that south of the port, in Punta Iglesia, there are earthen jugs buried with Cofresi's treasures. Also, on beaches adjacent to the town of Juán Esteban, a chest full of precious stones, jewels and other objects of great value was found.

The legend recounts that Cofresi's treasures have not been recovered because it was the pirate's custom to also bury, together with the treasure, whoever helped in the task.

Thus the belief that in order to unearth the treasures, a companion must be left where the treasure was found. On more than one occasion groups of adventurers have formed to unearth a treasure that "Cofresí has revealed to someone in a dream." These groups dissolve as soon as they draw lots to see who will be buried in place of the treasure.

Another tourist attraction in Barahona is the Hoya del Lago Enriquillo (Basin of Lake Enriquillo) from whose waters (around 30m below sea level) emerges Cabritos Island, the national park where the world's greatest reserve of the American crocodile lives in a wild state alongside important populations of flamingoes and two species of iguanas.

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Another place of national historical interest is the archeological zone of Las Caritas, a reserve of the pre-Hispanic art which shows cave paintings created by the Indians that populated the island, among which is found evidence that our wide smile has existed for more than 500 years. This park is endowed with an eco-tourism infrastructure.

In Barahona there are deposits of rock salt and gypsum located in the northern side of the Sierra del Bahoruco; while in the southern side there are deep layers of red soil, rich in aluminum, from where bauxite is extracted. Travertine marble and onyx are also produced here.

The first Antillean cargo and passenger transportation company was established in Barahona on July 2, 1927, to offer services between St. Croix, St. Thomas, San Juan, Santo Domingo, Port-au-Prince and Santiago, Cuba.

Barahona's patronal festivities are celebrated during the first week of October, dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. The carabiné, typical dance of the southern region, is carried out in Barahona with the accordion, balsié, güira, (a metal percussion instrument), and pandero (large tambourine).

Natives of Barahona are the immortal artists: María Montés, the first Dominican actress in Hollywood films, among which is "A thousand and One Nights"; and the folklorist Casandra Damirón, ambassador-at-large of our vernacular music, who with her art placed the Dominican Republic's name on top, many times making those who had the opportunity of applauding her interpretations rise from their seats.

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