Underground tunnels, discover ancient trasures of the colonial era
The luminous squares and alleys of the Colonial City in Santo Domingo hide a very little explored and virtually inaccessible underworld, including miles of galleries and defensive mazes strategically used for underground connection of the most emblematic buildings of the first city in the New World as well as those next to the old wall west that surround the area, and for protection from the invasions.
A lovely walk that has a complex and limited access but gives the possibility to open your eyes and daydream.
Long passages among great stone blocks connect the basilicas Nuestra Señora del Carmen, Las Mercedes, Santa Bárbara, the Convent, which are the Ruins of San Francisco today, the Church Regina Angelorum and the Basilica Menor, the Cathedral Santa Maria de La Encarnación Primada de America. Other alleys are found under the church of San Carlos, which is placed on the great slope of the city and has a narrow tunnel but in good condition that reaches the Caribbean coast, near a drainpipe at the Vigia Square, in front of the harbor.
In fact, the tourist can find in the interior of the temple of Santa Barbara, at a lateral room, an underground passage used for old priests like mechanism of escape when pirates invaded the area. It is the highest tunnel of all the existing temples of the colonial city. The intention was clear, 49.21 ft height gave the priests the possibility, in case of any attack, to ride their horses through the passage and reach the mountains on the outskirts, where the exit of the corridor was placed. Over time, after pirates assaults ceased, the tunnel was used as catacombs, where burial tombs were used for buried deceased priests.
True subterranean treasures that, even, it is said they hid gold coffers, as reported by General Máximo Gómez's daughter, Ignacia Gómez, known as Doña Ñañá, exactly at Hostos Street, just off Las Mercedes street, where street, named as Cuesta del Vidrio started, which leads directly to the ruined Convent of San Francisco.
The extension of the tunnels and their good conservation were discovered while the City Council, between 1900 and 1910, redesigned the Columbus Park. Walking through them is simple, although it is necessary to take into account the humidity conditions that drench when you are standing there and an evident lack of oxygen that prevents to normally breathe. There is a conduit where water filters through the porous rock.
The office of Monumental Heritage has opened several guided tours to see this underground structure but truly just few Dominicans know the colonial sewers of Santo Domingo, due to the restricted access. The route of about two blocks, begins on the corner of Isabel la Católica street and Restoration and ends at the courtyard of the restaurant La Atarazana.
According to historians their construction was started in 1502 before the city was built. A solid channel, whose structure collected the waters of a basin called Caño Sucio that carried out large numbers of animals and solid waste.