Dominicos Convent, Santo Domingo

Visit the first Catholic church and University of the New World.

Dominicos Convent, Santo Domingo
Dominicos Convent
© XimoPons

In 1510 (almost at the same time than the cathedral), the Dominicos Church was erected as the first Catholic construction of the New World; a possible explanation is that, about that time, the Order landed on the island.

Convento de los Dominicos, Dominican Republic
Convento de los Dominicos
© Rosa M. Reynoso Robiou

Nowadays, at the background, you can see the ruined building of the University, and to the right the 18th century construction of the Third Order can be found. Therefore, the place has a long history.

Starting its classes around 1534, in 1538 it was the first university of America. In a beginning, It was opened as Universidad de Santo Tomás de Aquino and later as Universidad Primada de America. Today is known as Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) (Autonomous University of Santo Domingo). The convent not only housed the first university in the New World, but it was also the place where Fray Antón de Montesinos made the first call for Human Rights.

Regarding its architecture, there are several mixed styles on the amazing facade of the church and convent: Gothic, Baroque and Elizabethan Gothic styles, predominating the last one throughout all the American continent during Colonial times.

When talking about any treasure in the Ciudad Colonial, the fearsome Francis Drake needs to be mentioned, surprisingly, he didn’t attack the convent because of the respect churches and other places of worship inspired him.

Along the years the construction has survived (not without various damages and modifications) to several relevant earthquakes, even to the 1545 cyclone, which affected part of its structure.

In 1746 it was restored in Baroque style. The convent was closed during the occupation of Haiti and later on several religious orders occupied it until 1954, when Dominicans retook it.

Nowadays, this welcoming church houses 5 altarpieces made by one of the most important painters of the time, the Spanish Juan Martínez Montañés. Moreover, you can visit the Nuestra Señora del Rosario Chapel, patroness of the Dominicans, erected in 1649. The vault of the chapel was adorned with the twelve signs of the Zodiac, being known as the Zodiac Chapel. It is one of the few chapels in the world where astrological elements are represented, in addition to the ones in Salamanca and Río Seco.

During your visit you’ll have the chance to go on the 30 minutes tour with audio guides offered in Spanish, English, French, Italian, Russian and German.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit this church of tremendous historical value.

More information:


At the corner between Padre Billini and Duarte streets, Colonial Area. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Opening hours:

From 8:30am to 12:30pm and from 3:00pm to 6:00pm.


(809) 682 3780



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