One of my favourite architectural sites is Las ruinas de San Francisco. A little bit of history! By now you’ve guessed it, I’m a lover of antiquities. Built by Nicolas de Ovando in 1508 with stone and brick walls, it was the first monastery of the Americas. The New World welcomed the Franciscan Fathers.
The monastery has seen many tragedies, earthquakes, piracy (Francis Drake, can you believe it? My mind races with romantic pastabilities 🙂 ), canon fire, and became the first city aqueduct. Prior to it’s collapse, it was an asylum for the insane. I’ve also heard tuberculosis, but through all my research I’m not entirely sure if it was one or the other, or in fact both! It’s left to the imagination to reconstruct it’s past glories and downfalls. The worn footsteps, broken walls and tiredness speak volumes to those that will listen. Time has taken it’s toll on these walls. If only each brick could tell it’s story, the vision of past, present and future.
The high walls of the old church at the main entrance are captivating. You … are on holy ground! The eeriness that goes with this thought is increíble. Gentle shivers along the surface of the skin and a chill down the spine … imagine! Look at the ruins, close your eyes, set your imagination free. HISTORY! It’s closer than you think!
This is a protected historical site used for social and cultural gatherings. The impact from sound vibration and from pedestrian traffic on the ruins is great. There is much debate as to weather or not this is damaging to this historical site. It continues to crumble. How much longer it will last is anyone’s guess.
Whether damaging or not, cultural events take place here on a regular basis. Sunday nights it is host to “Salsa Night.” Different musicians come to play and the cobblestone streets are littered with people. Chair and table rentals are available at a nominal fee. There is “dancing in the streets” in the literal sense of the phrase.
There is truly nothing like this unique experience. This is perfectly Dominican. Families, friends, couples gather with their rented chairs, coolers full of spirits and libations. Lined up in rows like any regular concert, space is there for the taking. Regulars come week after week, lending a feeling of true sense of family and community. I am mesmerized by the guests. Not being a dancer by any stretch of the imagination, I am held in awe by the fluid movements on the uneven cobbles. Fluidity on the dance floor is dessert to the eyes, but a main course to the dancers. They live and breathe dance on that uneven floor. Vertical expressions of horizontal desires as they move in unison. Man … I am jealous!
The smells, the sights, the sounds, all the senses light up with this experience. Folks, there is nothing like this anywhere else on the planet. Welcome to Salsa on Sundays, Domingo, at Las Ruinas de San Francisco, Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana.
Where history continues to be made …
Listen to the palms…
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