San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic

Discover the country's History and the mix of cultures in San Juan de la Maguana, in the Dominican Republic

San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic
San Juan de la Maguana
© Pablo Carreño

Known as “the wizards’ city”, San Juan de la Maguana is strongly influenced by the beliefs of the increasing numbers of Haitians that practice voodoo.

Tourism in San Juan de la Maguana
Arco del Triunfo, San Juan de la Maguana
© Pablo Carreño
Cathedral of San Juan de la Maguana
Cathedral of San Juan de la Maguana
© La India del Cibao
Presa Sabaneta, San Juan de la Maguana
Presa Sabaneta
© Pablo Carreño

One of the most interesting events that are related to voodoo is the religious procession that lasts for about 15 kilometres and that takes place in May. The believers carry a little religious statue from El Batey to San Juan, accompanied by chants and drums. It is not unusual that some of the believers be possessed by the Holy Spirit or by a Taíno spirit and start a dance or talk in strange languages, or even fall down to the ground.

As one of the country’s first cities, it was founded in 1503 and it takes its name from Saint John the Baptist and the Taíno name for the valley, Maguana. The Taíno commander of Maguana was Caonabo, who fought against the Spanish colonisers. Nevertheless, he could not stop them and finally the Spaniards settled there, and Diego Velázquez, 2nd Admiral of the Ocean Sea, founded this well-known city.

Later, this city suffered from several attacks by the Maroons, that took it as a crossing path between Cibao and Neyba or Bahoruco. These Maroons joined Commander Enriquillo’s army. Then, an earthquake utterly destroyed San Juan de Maguana.

After being rebuilt, this city has been witness of lots of battles of every war that the island has been immersed into, and which are usually commemorated, as for example, in the monument to the heroes of the Santomé battle.

In this city, you can find lots of busy squares and parks, such as José María Cabral Park, also known as “donkeys’ park”; Caonabo Park; Francisco del Rosario Sánchez Park; and Anacaona Square.

Cathedral of San Juan de la Maguana is an impressive building that is very important for the city.

Outside the city, we can find José del Carmen Ramírez National Park and the Neyba Mountain Range, in where there are lots of activities to practise and landscapes to enjoy.

In El Batey, a former Maroon settlement, it is possible to visit the Anacaona Stone at the “El Corral de los IndiosCeremonial Square; El Cercado, the municipal cemetery, La Culata’s Ruins (a former colonial city), Old Saint John (San Juan Viejo), and Antiguo Ingenio de Juan de León’s Ruins (Former Juan de León’s Sugar Factory Ruins).

There are lots of spas and springs waiting for you, for example, those in the Yaque del Sur, the San Juan and the Los Baos rivers, among many more; or the sulfur springs in Orégano Grande, in Vallecitos de Dajay.

Furthermore, since there is a vogue for eco-friendly tourism, several tours and trips are offered in this region: Seboruco Cave, Furnias de Catanamatías Caves, San Francisco Cave in Bánica, and Boca del Antiguo Volcán de Caracol Cave, in Asiento Luisa; among many more.

If you come, you should not miss the Sabana Yegua Dam and the lake there. Come and admire the impressive, lush tropical vegetation that surrounds the area.

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