Of course, the Spaniards were looking for a route to India, they were looking for gold, and discovered the Americas instead. They did not wait long to realize that this new land offered a great opportunity to expand the Roman Catholic church. It was Diego Columbus, son of Christopher Columbus himself, who laid the first stone of the Catedral Primada de las Américas in 1514. Nevertheless, construction was really started upon the arrival of the first bishop, and it took until the mid-16th century to finish the cathedral. It is for this reason that you can see a mixture of Gothic, Romanesque and baroque styles.
The main facade of the Catedral Primada de las Américas was built of coral rock; the remains of Columbus were kept here until they were moved to the Columbus Lighthouse in 1992 - the 500 year anniversary of his voyage. Still, when you approach the cathedral you have to notice a large statue of Columbus centrally placed on the inevitable Plaza de Colón (Colón is the Spanish name for Columbus; most towns and cities in Latin America have such a square). The cathedral itself might not be very impressive from the outside because it is not especially tall and lacks an imposing bell tower, but once inside, there is plenty to see, and history grabs you.
Anyone will recognize the different styles in the Catedral Primada de las Américas, from older gothic structures to modern stained glass windows. The cathedral is so well kept, that at first, you might not even realize it is almost 500 years old. It is only when you look more closely, that proof of its age presents itself. This might be in the tombs of historical figures (family members of Columbus are still entombed here), national figures of the Dominican Republic, bishops lining the side walls of the cathedral, chapels with old memorial stones in the marble floor... As we admired the interior of the cathedral, an afternoon thunderstorm sailed over the cathedral, giving the interior a fantastic light.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Catedral Primada de las Américas (Dominican Republic). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Catedral Primada de las Américas. Read more about this site.