The Colonial City of Santo Domingo, founded a quincentennial ago, is an enthralling and historically rich metropolis, having served as the principal city and capital of the ancient Hispaniola and discovered territories; since the early sixteenth century, when the extraordinary discovery of the New World took place, forever changing the course of history. In its five centuries of existence, this city lived under many flags and nationalities, often under political turmoil. From being the first Spanish viceregal court in America, it went on to becoming capital of an island under French domain, from which a short-lived independence was attained; it became once again a Haitian domain, against which battles were fought until attaining the National Independence in 1844. For a short period it was annexed to Spain, and then established as of 1865, as the Dominican Republic we still hold. ￼The Colonial City, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, possesses an extraordinary grace and holds deep ties to the historical past of the ancient island of Hispaniola. The events of yesterday remain reflected in the tourist appeal of its five centuries of existence. Originally the Villa of Santo Domingo, known as Nueva Isabela in 1498, was located east of the Ozama River. It was later resettled to the opposite side and came to be known as the city of Santo Domingo. Once appointed, a coat of arms, privileges and rights were granted in 1508.
The Colonial City is the result of a formal foundation. Although a small indigenous hamlet existed in the vicinity, it is located here with a specific administrative purpose. ￼In his first voyage, Christopher Columbus set as goal discovering the route towards the Indies, but he reached new lands instead. His second trip had as goal to found villas. Therefore, La Isabela and a cluster of new towns were founded all the way from the Northern coast, to venture into the interior of the island, known as the Paso de los Hidalgos. All along this route, Jacagua; La Vega Real; Bonao and La Buenaventura were founded. No planning had been followed for founding the Villa. This seemed to be an act precipitated by circumstances rather than motivated by reason.