While visiting the beautiful La Romana in the Dominican Republic, my friends and I signed up for a visit to Altos de Chavón with no idea what it was. But we kept seeing that it was considered a must see place of the area and so off we went to find out what exactly this favorite place was.
What we learned was that Altos de Chavón is a recreated 16th century Mediterranean village that has become both a visually stunning tourist site and a cultural gathering of local artists. Sitting on top of a hill that overlooks the Chavón river and also the blue waters of the Caribbean- this is a stunning place to explore.
The entire area of Altos de Chavón was meticulously created by local artisans as they brought to the life the idea of Dominican architect Jose Antonio Caro. Every detail was given the attention and pride of the passion of Caro in creating such a beautiful place.
At the center of the cobblestoned city is the beautiful St. Stanislaus church with the rust colored tiles above the simple beauty of the building. Often visitors can find local musicians singing and dancing at the entrance to the church.
The church was named after the patron saint of Poland, Stanislaus of Szczepanów, in honor of a visit from Pope John Paul II who visited Santo Domingo in 1979 and gave some of the ashes of the saint to the people.
The idea of creating this space first came in 1976 when there was a blasting project through the stone to make way for a road and bridge crossing the river. They would use the piles of rocks that were left over from the construction to recreate a village similar to what would have been in found in the capital of Santo Domingo.
Construction was completed in 1980 and has since become the most popular point of interest in La Romana and the surrounding areas. The streets are filled with restaurants, boutiques, and local artist studios. Walking through the streets and seeing the artists at work really brings to life the cultural artistry that is housed here.
On the far side of Altos de Chavón is the Roman styled amphitheater that holds over 5,000 people in it. This stage has seen its share of great musicians including Frank Sinatra, Santana, Heart, Michael Bublé, Ricky Martin to name a few.
Altos de Chavón is also home to a small archeology museum and a design school bringing together the artistic passion and the cultural heritage of the area. You can see the both of those throughout and together they make a really beautiful combination.
With one last look over the river from atop of the bell tower, we said goodbye to Altos de Chavón. It had been a unique and wonderful look at the corner of La Romana and it went from being a place we had never heard of to one of our favorite places within a short time. You just can’t help be enamored with the cobblestone streets, the streets of shops, and the lovely church overlooking the river.