Churches

A majority of the population is Roman Catholic, as well as other Christian denominations. As a result, Dominican churches play an important role in the culture and history of the country, dating back to the days of the Spanish colonialists. Tour the most significant church in the Colonial City: the Catedral Primada de América, the oldest in the Americas, where official national celebrations take place. The Colonial City is filled with many more breathtaking, important religious sites you can reach on foot, such as Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Las Mercedes, one of two representations of the country’s patron saint. Dominicans make a pilgrimage to Higüey every January 21, to the Basílica Catedral Nuestra Señora de La Altagracia, the country’s most important shrine dedicated to the DR’s patron saint, the Virgin Mary, and often included on tours from Punta Cana. Off the beaten track, a visit of the Holy Hill of Santo Cerro and adjoining church is worthwhile to see the third holiest site in the DR, just outside of La Vega, where Dominicans make a pilgrimage on September 24, Day of the Señora de Las Mercedes.

To ensure entry, dress appropriately when visiting any of these symbolic churches.

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CHURCHES IN
Dominican Republic

Churches are a symbol of Dominicans’ solid faith, revealing centuries of history and architecture.

 
 
Located in nearby Higüey, this cathedral ranks among the top most important religious sites in the DR. Honoring the Virgin of La Altagracia, patron saint of Dominicans, it’s a standout for its 69-meter (225 feet) high arch, with a bronze and gold entrance.
Higüey, Punta Cana
Originally built in the 16th century by the Dávila family, the 500-year old Gothic chapel was intended as a private religious shrine, where prominent Spanish families would congregate for prayers.
Santo Domingo
This modern Roman Catholic Church took 15 years to build, and was completed in 1992. The cathedral is one of the few in the world where the statue of Christ is portrayed as already having resurrected and not dying on the cross.
Constanza, Jarabacoa, La Vega
Built between 1510 and 1540, the first cathedral of the Americas continues to stand tall in all of its glory over the heart of the Colonial City. The remains of Christopher Columbus were found here in the 19th century.
Santo Domingo
This all-white Catholic cathedral, designed in Gothic and neoclassical style, dates back to the 19th century. Tour the beautiful interior–which holds the remains of former Dominican leader Ulises Heureaux, as well as other notable personalities of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Santiago
The striking coral and white stone baroque façade—with ceramic designs—was built in the 16th century. It was home to 15 friars sent here from Spain, who also established the adjacent first university in the Americas.
Santo Domingo
Once occupied by nuns, this imposing, former 16th century convent hosts numerous weddings. Renowned Dominican poet Salomé Ureña later turned it into an educational institute for women, before it went back to being a convent.
Santo Domingo
One of Santo Domingo’s most historic churches was built by the Spanish to spread Catholicism in the New World. Despite earthquakes and pirate invasions led by Sir Francis Drake, the building has preserved its original design.
Santo Domingo
Emulating Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral, this historic Catholic church stands on one end of the town square, attracting visitors with its 19th century neoclassical-gothic design, striking stained glass windows, and a belfry surrounding an ornate mahogany altar.
Montecristi
The oldest building in Santa Bárbara de Samaná and a cultural heritage site, this 18th century wooden church was built by freed African-Americans. To this day, La Churcha practices the African Methodist Episcopal faith, and its attendees are descendants of African Americans.
Samaná

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