AAA Editor Notes
Colonial Zone (Zona Colonial) extends about 1 mi. (1.6 km) w. from the bank of the Ozama River, bounded on the north by Ave. Mella and on the south by the Caribbean Sea. The New World's first fortress, cathedral, monastery, hospital, palaces and government offices were built here after Christopher Columbus' arrival in 1492.
At the heart of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is Columbus Park. Two blocks east is the Ozama Fortress, within which stands the Tower of Homage (La Torre del Homenaje), built 1503-07. North along Calle de Las Damas is the National Pantheon, where the remains of some of the country's greatest heroes are enshrined.
Visitors to the colonial section are advised to wear comfortable shoes and light clothing, but not shorts; those wearing shorts can be denied admission to some attractions. Caution should be exercised in this area, especially after dark, as tourists are often approached by locals asking for money. Amiable freelance tour guides are eager to offer their services; it is wise to ask to see a government-issued identification card and to agree upon the guide’s fee before taking a tour. Visitors should feel free to decline tours despite the insistence of overzealous guides; such tours are optional, even within most of the attractions.