Santo Domingo, on the south Caribbean coast of Hispaniola Island is the main port and capital city of Dominican Republic. It is the oldest European settlement in the New World and professed burial place of Christopher Columbus. Built in the early 1500s, the city was the first hub of Spanish culture and commerce in the western hemisphere.
Basilica Menor (built 1521-1540) is the oldest cathedral in the New World. With passage of time the building was used in many ways. When pirates led by Sir Francis Drake conquered Santo Domingo they used the cathedral as barracks. The cathedral was built in a Spanish Renaissance style, but the interior is a three-aisled Late-Gothic structure. The battlements on the portal are a reminder that the cathedral was once surrounded by a fortified wall.
Casas Reales was erected in the early part of 16th century. It was taken up by the royal court of justice and island's administration. Opposite the 'royal buildings' is a small sundial installed in 1753, and placed slightly at an angle so the governor and his men could see what time it was from their office windows.
The lighthouse memorial known as Faro a Colon was built for the 500th anniversary of Columbus's arrival on Hispaniola. This controversial glorification of colonization is a cross-shaped concrete structure. Christopher Columbus remains were transferred from Basilica Menor to the marble tomb inside a building in 1992 when the Faro was officially open. On special occasions the lighthouse projects a beam of light many kilometers into the sky.