Fortaleza Ozama Fortress, Santo Domingo

Visit the first military fort in the continent and discover more about the Colonial history of Santo Domingo.

Fortaleza Ozama Fortress, Santo Domingo
Fortaleza Ozama Fortress
© Turismo RD

Erected in front of the mouth of the Ozama River, the Santo Domingo Fortress or Fortaleza Ozama Fortress is the first military construction in the Colony, and one of the World Heritage jewels in the Colonial Area.

Fortaleza Ozama Fortress, Dominican Republic
Ozama Fortress, Dominican Republic
© Turismo RD

The simple and solid construction was built by the Spaniards between 1502 and 1507 at the request of the governor Nicolás de Ovando, providing it with a Medieval style. However, during the following centuries the place was modified and extended until it became the interesting building that you can see today.

The main purpose of its construction was to defend the city from the attacks of British, Portuguese and French conquerors, as well as from the pillage of pirates.

The closer you get to the Fortress, the more you’ll have the feeling of being in a real Medieval castle, formed by a highly functional architectural ensemble. Thus, the historic monument is made up by different relevant parts.

The first one is the Puerta Carlos III Gate, erected in 1787 during his reign and which gives access to the place. You’ll also enjoy the Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo Statue, first chronicler of The Indies and warden of the fortress from 1533 to 1557.

You can also observe the Tower of Homage, named in honor of the Spanish conquerors. It is the most striking building in the complex because it looks like a 18-meters-tall Medieval castle with a waving Dominican flag.

Its construction started in 1503; during 1509 was used as the residence of the viceroy Diego Columbus, his family and the group of soldiers accompanying him. The tower was the place where Fernández de Oviedo wrote his famous work Historia General y Natural de las Indias (General and Natural History of the Indies). It also worked as a prison until the 20th century.

El polvorín is a square construction formed by 3 metres thick walls, dating from the 18th century. Its facade shows a coat of arms from the king Charles III and an alcove with the image of Santa Bárbara.

Two interesting elements of the construction are the shooting platforms. A “lower” one, from 1570 with battlements along with holsters and another one from the 17th century considered to be “higher”.

It also stand out the Ruins of the first Work, the temporary construction used while the Tower of Homage was being built and where it can be seen the foundations of a large room and two smaller ones.

You can’t miss the chance to visit the Garita de Santiago shelter o Santiago Fort or watchtower, the remains of the 16th century old fort that were also part of the building.

At the end of the 18th century, Spain sent a new regiment, so it was necessary to make room using part of the old wall. Moreover, new tunnels and dungeons where prisoners were locked up are still being discovered.  

Nowadays, this interesting place is also used for school trips, artistic representations and various cultural activities.

More information:


Las Damas street, Colonial Area. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

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Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

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