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Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

F4F8+696, Cjón. de los Curas, Santo Domingo 10210, Dominican Republic

Opening Hours

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

RD 117

Find it on google maps

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expert
Heng
Local tour guide
"Visit the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor in the morning to avoid the crowds and enjoy the serene atmosphere. Don't miss the small chapel on the left side behind the altar where you can see some of the oldest and most revered religious art pieces in the Caribbean, often overlooked by tourists."

What is Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor?

The Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, affectionately known as the Catedral Primada de América, is the oldest cathedral in the Americas. Located in the heart of the Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo, it's not just a religious building but also a symbol of the rich history and culture of the Dominican Republic. Its limestone walls bear witness to the faith and resilience of a bygone era.

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This grand edifice serves as both a working church and a repository of art and history, with magnificent architecture that captures the spirit of European influence in the New World. When you step inside, you're not just entering a house of worship—you're walking through the pages of history.

History of Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor

Construction of the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor began in 1512 under the governance of Bishop Fray García Padilla and was completed in 1541. Conceived by architect Alonso de Rodríguez, the cathedral stands as a testament to Spanish Renaissance architecture infused with Gothic and Baroque elements. It was here that the ashes of Christopher Columbus were purportedly housed before their removal to the Columbus Lighthouse.


Designated as the first cathedral of the New World, the church holds the title of the first archdiocese in the Americas. Over time, it has seen numerous renovations and restorations, each carefully orchestrated to maintain the integrity of the original structure while incorporating modern safety features.

Why is Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor Important?

The Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor is a cornerstone of religious, architectural, and cultural significance. It symbolizes the dawn of Christianity in the New World and represents the strength and perseverance of the Dominican people and their faith. This cathedral has borne witness to countless ceremonies, including countless patron saints' fiestas and the ascension of many political figures in the country's history.


Moreover, the cathedral's status as a UNESCO World Heritage site emphasizes its global importance. As the first cathedral of the Americas, it has also been a central figure in ecclesiastical matters, playing a key role in the spread of Catholicism throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Things to Do & See at Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor

Visitors to the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor will find themselves enveloped in a palpable sense of history. Starting with the main facade, an example of Plateresque architecture, you'll find it adorned with statues of saints and intricate stonework. The interior is just as breathtaking, with its grandiose Gothic arches and a beautiful vaulted ceiling.

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You can marvel at the numerous religious artifacts, statues, and paintings that line the walls, many of which have been preserved for centuries. Be sure to visit the Chapel of the Virgin Mary, which houses an image of the Virgin brought by Columbus himself. The mausoleums of archbishops and other notable figures of the colonial era also tell a story of the times long past.

The cathedral also serves as an ethereal setting for concerts and cultural events throughout the year, thus continually weaving the tapestry of the present with the threads of history. It's recommended to take a guided tour to truly appreciate the intricate details and hidden stories of this incredible landmark.

Frequently asked questions

What is the history behind the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor?

The Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, known as the First Cathedral of America, is the oldest cathedral in the Americas, completed in 1540. It is located in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo and was commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1504.

Can I attend a mass at the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor?

Yes, the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor is an active church and holds regular mass services. It is recommended to check the current schedule for service times as they can vary.

Is there an entrance fee to visit the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor?

As a place of worship, the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor generally does not charge an entrance fee for prayer and worship. However, there may be a nominal fee for tourists visiting for sightseeing purposes to help with the maintenance of the historic building.

Are there guided tours available at the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor?

Yes, guided tours are usually available at the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor. These tours provide in-depth historical context and help visitors appreciate the architectural features of the cathedral.

What are some notable features of the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor?

The Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor is known for its Gothic and Baroque architectural styles, its impressive façade, its treasury which contains an extensive collection of ancient woodcarvings, paintings, old furnishings, and religious artifacts from the colonial period.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

F4F8+696, Cjón. de los Curas, Santo Domingo 10210, Dominican Republic

Opening Hours

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

RD 117

Find it on google maps