In this week’s monuments of the Dominican Republic, we visit a couple of historic churches as we explore Samaná and La Vega.
Samaná is a natural treasure. Wild, verdant, with coves, bays, waterfalls, mountains and awe-inspiring views – there is lots to explore. It is known for its wading and body-boarding beaches, nature trekking and whale-watching.
Thousands of Europeans have come as tourists and stayed, setting up businesses that give Samana its cosmopolitan vibe. Samaná City is the provincial capital; Las Galeras is the base for visiting the famous Playa Rincón beach; and Las Terrenas is the main tourist center, but still retains an easygoing beach town feel, with some great shops, restaurants and bars.
Located in Samaná City, La Churcha is a 19th century wooden church shipped (in pieces) from England in 1823, and reassembled by freed African-American slaves who immigrated to Samaná after being offered free land to farm. It survived a fire in 1946 that destroyed much of the central business district and still stands proudly along the waterfront.
La Vega has gained its place in the book of tourism for the colors and sights of its Sunday carnivals in February. It is the capital of the province where the mountain vacation destinations of Jarabacoa and Constanza are located. It is also center for the veneration of the patron virgin of the Dominican Republic, Our Lady of Mercedes. But before you head into the surrounding mountains, take time to get to experience this hospitable city.
La Inmaculada Concepción Cathedral
A large and imposing modern Roman Catholic Church dominates La Vega’s central square. The church took 15 years to build and was not completed until 1992. The architect’s intention was for the grey walls to express man’s limited capacity to reflect on divine illumination. The cathedral is one of the few in the world where Christ is portrayed as already having resurrected and not dying on the cross. The cathedral can accommodate more than a 1,000 worshippers and is one of the largest in the Dominican Republic.
Stay tuned as next week we explore a palace and an old city hall in the Dominican Republic.