A tumultuous history for one of the Americas' oldest buildings.
A landmark Franciscan monastery, witness to much history.
Begun in 1508 and completed 50 years later, this Franciscan monastery is attributed to one of the early colonial era’s foremost and most prolific architects, Nicolás de Ovando, whose work is found throughout the old town as well as elsewhere in the DR. But history has not been not kind, beginning in 1586 when privateer Francis Drake attacked, sacked, and damaged it. What Drake didn’t destroy was mostly taken by a 1673 earthquake, reducing it practically to rubble. As the final indignity, during the historic Battle of Palo Hincado, cannon fire from invading French forces brought the roof down. Nonetheless, this glorious ruin is worth a visit while you’re in the old town for its atmosphere and its importance to the country’s history.