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    Alcazar de ColonAlcazar de Colon Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
    The oldest viceregal residence in the new world is now known as the Alcazar de Colon, or the Columbus Alcazar, located in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, belonging to the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo World Heritage Site. Today, the old house contains a museum called the Museo Alcazar de Diego Colon, with a magnificent collection of the Caribbean's most significant ensemble of European late medieval and renaissance works of art that were acquired in the 1950s. It tapestry collection that spans the 15th to the 17th centuries is especially important and unique to the region, and includes some pieces that were made by the Flemish Van Den Hecke family from cartouches that had been created by Charles Le Brun, and the most visited museum in the city. The palace itself has a significant construction of coralline blocks that had once held fifty rooms and numerous gardens and courtyards, even though only about half of it is still here today. It was constructed by Diego Colon, the son of Christopher Columbus, after he had become viceroy of La Espanola and the Indies in 1509. He would instruct that a family house and governor's mansion be constructed between 1510 and 1512. During the early Spanish colonial era, the mansion would hold an important place in history, since it became the starting point for many expeditions of conquest and exploration of the new world, with the planning done here. In 1586, the palace would be sacked by Sir Francis Drake and his men, and as the city's significance would decline, the house would fall into disrepair and ruins, and by the mid18th century, it would be abandoned and in danger of rotting away. Between 1955 and 1957, it would enjoy a much needed restoration.

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    Fort OzamaFort Ozama Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
    The Fortaleza Ozama is the oldest surviving fort in the new world or Americas, and called Ozama since it sits on the banks of the Ozama River. Ozama is a Taino word that means navigable waters or wetlands. This river starts in the north part of the nation and flows south where it empties into the Caribbean Sea only a number of yards from the fort. The fort was constructed between 1502 and 1508 by order of the governor of Hispaniola, Frey Nicolas de Ovando, the founder of the city of Santo Domingo, and built to protect the city against attacks by pirates and other attacking forces. It has never been taken by any force of arms, especially since it has been in the midst of many military actions that the city has been involved in during the centuries. Left of the entrance of the fort stands a statue of Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo, who had been sent here from Salamanca, Spain to become the captain of the fort and warden of the prison. Gonzalo was a man of many talents, including being an anthropologist, interested in the study of man, as well as an ethnologist interested in the study of races and a historian and chronicler, author of the Historia Naturaly General de las Indias and a naturalist that would document and sketch the fauna and flora of the islands. Legend has it that he was a man that took his duties to heart, and after having spent some quarter of a century at the fort and prison, he would die at the entrance, still holding the keys to the prison, and even though dead, it was very hard to pry them from his fingers. His statue is bronze and hollow, sculpted by Joaquin Vaquero, and a gift from the king and queen of Spain on their maiden visit to the island in 1976, with the statue sent by boat a year later and installed on the grounds of the fort.

May 6, 2011