Tourism in Punta Cana: The Crucible of Dominican Cultures

By | 2 August, 2017 | 0 comments

As Juan Luis Guerra, a famous Dominican singer, once sang: the Dominican Republic is a country where white, black and taína people live together in harmony. The country is a crucible of cultures nourished by the historical inheritance of having been a Spanish colony, African (during the sad years of slavery) and Tainan (inheritance of the native Indians that inhabited the island in pre-Columbus times). Enjoying tourism in the Dominican Republicis a beautiful adventure that can include numerous cultural and historical attractions for people who like that sort of thing.

What to see in Punta Cana?

There are many different options when you are planning your vacations in Punta Cana, but sometimes our guests ask us to go a little further and help them draw up a plan that will help them understand the history of the country a little better.

About two hours from our Princess Hotels in Punta Canais the capital, Santo Domingo, with a stunning colonial area which impresses everyone that visits.

The heritage of Spanish culture

This island (taking in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic) is called “La Española“. They say that its coast was the first that Christopher Columbus saw on his voyage across the Atlantic. The arrival of the first Spaniards on the island kicked off a cultural fusion whose remains can still be seentoday if you visit the colonial area of the capital Santo Domingo, one of the most interesting excursions in the Dominican Republic, especially for history lovers.


  • The “Alcázar de Colón” (Columbus Alcazar): if one of the best-known excursions in the Dominican Republic is the colonial area, the Alcázar de Colón and its beautiful square is the most popular stop on the route. Inside the Alcázar is an interesting museum that houses original items from the 13th to 20th centuries, all related to different aspects of daily life in the different ages, beautiful tapestries, paintings and musical instruments which will delight anyone interested in Spanish history.
  • The Cathedral of America: the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor is one of the most popular sights in the Dominican Republic. It was the first cathedral built in the New World and dates back to 1512. Solid walls, Gothic and Plateresque styles, it contains a vast treasure of art, with highlights including the altarpiece and impressive vaulted ceilings. For a long time, the remains of Christopher Columbus were also buried within its walls.

  • The Ozama Fortress: tourism in the Dominican Republic does not have to only meanbeaches and the sea. A walk around the Ozama fortresscan be accompanied by one of the most impressive sunsets you have ever seen in your life. Built by the Spanish in the colonial era, it is now considered a World Heritage Site. It is the oldest military building on the island and was a base for the subsequent conquest of the Americas.
  • The remains of the monastery of San Francisco: these ruins are what remains of what was one of the most important historical centers in the Dominican Republic, declared a Dominican heritage site. Its construction began in 1508 and ended in 1560. Sacked in 1586 by the fearsome corsair Francis Drake, its history is a tale of continuous reconstructionuntil it was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1673.

The heritage of Taino culture

You can find this in many forms, including in the modern language, agriculture and food. Don’t miss out on these tiny details during your activities in Punta Cana.

Food such as cassava (which can easily be found in all the buffet restaurants in our Princess Hotels in the Dominican Republic), words such as canoe, hurricane, barbecue or tobacco, names of places in the country such as Ozama, Samaná or Ceiba … all of this comes directly from the Indians and are everyday examples which tourists who visitus can easilyfind.

You can also see Taino treasures in museums in the capital, including vessels and tools used for cooking, harvesting or other daily tasks, or cave paintings. On the way to the capital, you can see one of the best-known paintings: the “Maravillas” (Wonders) Cave. Located one hour from the Princess Hotels, it is an original idea when you are looking for something to do in Punta Cana. It is a beautiful tourist attraction, not only due to the paintings on its walls, but also due to the natural beauty of the surroundings. It is located about 25 meters below ground and has about 800 meters of corridors, of which around 200 can be visited. Beautiful stalactites and imposing stalagmites create a frame for the most curious and interesting rustic and rural paintings.

Finally, we recommend you complete your visit in a small museum where the daily life of the Indians on the islandis explained using lithographs and some remains and other reproductions. This is an excursion that attracts adults due to its historical and cultural content,but it is also great for children as they feel like Indiana Jonesin the underground caves.

Hotels Princess Punta Cana, Restaurants 5*

The heritage of African culture

Everything related to religion, sorcery, voodoo or the evil eye are beliefs that still prevail on the island which come directly from Africa.

Also some musical instruments such as drums, marimba or maracas, and dances such as the gaga, congós or salvesare cultural elements that originate in African culture.

During Carnival in February in our Princess Hotels we use these dances and instruments to bring fresh and fun entertainment to guests. If there is one time of year in which the African heritage receives most attention, it is during carnival. The whole country takes part in troupes where they the Guloyas or Buloyas parade, an intrinsic part of the Dominican carnival.

Of course, African cuisine has also has an influence. The yams, meals with coconut or the famous yaniqueque, which Dominicans love so much, all have their origins in the times of African slavery.

As you can see, this is an inheritance rooted in modern folklore in the country and considered a heritage by its people, coexisting in a very particular way in this Caribbean country.

In short, if you are thinking about things to do Punta Cana and your intention is to get a bit away from the most popular and better knownactivities to discoverthe more cultural and historical side of this beautiful Caribbean island, there are different and surprising options suitable for all types of visitors.

Categories: Caribbean, Tips, Be inspired, Punta Cana


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