Colonial Walls of Santo Domingo City
Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, is the oldest standing colonial city founded by Europeans in the Americas. Located next to a cliff overlooking the mouth of the Ozama River from its western margin, on the usually warm and humid Caribbean coast of the country's south, it also features the oldest functioning colonial port of the Americas.

Due to this maritime capacity and strategic location facing most of the New World territories, during the first decades of the Spanish empire in the early sixteenth century, Santo Domingo City was its political center and the launching pad from where the ensuing conquest and colonization of most of the continent by the Spaniards took place. This made it the target of pirates and enemies of Spain since early on. As a result, a thick defensive wall was built all around its perimeter, with a fortress located on its southeastern tip overlooking the Ozama's mouth.

The historical record clearly shows that enslaved black Africans, brought to La Española (Hispaniola) in what was the beginning of the Middle Passage, were the labor force used to build it. Today, segments of the wall survive at different locations in the periphery of what Dominicans call 'Zona Colonial' (Colonial Zone).

This photo and entire accompanying set: CUNY Dominican Studies Institute at the City College. Some rights reserved under a Creative Commons license.

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