The Ozama Fortress (Spanish: Fortaleza Ozama), also formerly known as the city wall's Homage tower. It is one of the surviving sections of the Walls of Santo Domingo, which is recognized by UNESCO as being the oldest military construction of European origin in the Americas.[1] It was built between 1502-1508[2] by the Spanish at the entrance to Santo Domingo's Ciudad Colonial, Dominican Republic, and overlooking the Ozama River. Named after this river, the castle, also referred to as "La Fortaleza" or "The Fortress". It was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, together with the other historical monuments of the Ciudad Colonial.

Fortaleza Ozama
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Tower of Ozama Fortress
LocationSanto Domingo, Dominican Republic
Part ofColonial City of Santo Domingo
CriteriaCultural: (ii), (iv), (vi)
Inscription1990 (14th Session)
Coordinates18°28′24″N 69°52′54″W / 18.47320°N 69.88171°W / 18.47320; -69.88171
Fortaleza Ozama is located in the Dominican Republic
Fortaleza Ozama
Location of Fortaleza Ozama in the Dominican Republic

The Ozama Fortress is part of the Colonial City of Santo Domingo. According to historians and architects, the construction of this monument lasted from 1502 to 1508, which was started by Governor Nicolás Ovando. During the 16th century, the 18-meter high tower was the highest European-built construction of the Americas.[3]

The construction of this fortress is designed in the form of a stone castle and still preserves its original architecture. Inside the fortress there are tunnels and dungeons where the prisoners were locked up, Christopher Columbus himself, one of the most important figures in the history of the Americas, was imprisoned in the Ozama fortress.

History Edit

An impressive architectural structure of medieval style and design, the Tower of Homage (Spanish: Torre del Homenaje) stands in the center of the grounds. The castle was designed to guard the entrance to the port of Santo Domingo and defend the city from seaborne enemies. The main objective of this construction was to protect the city from the various attacks of the English, French and Dutch pirates and conquerors.

Coral stones extracted from the sea were used for construction.[4] Black and Taino slaves worked for the construction of the fortress. Nicolás de Ovando, founder of Santo Domingo, personally chose the lot of the construction when it was completed in 1505.[5] The fortress was considered the Axis of the Conquest by the Spaniards once they had explored the whole island.[6]

The architect of the building was the Spaniard Gómez Garcia de Varela. The construction started with the main tower, then the shooting platforms, then the main defensive fort.[6] The Fortaleza was seized by the pirate Sir Francis Drake in 1586. The entrance gate on Calle Damas was originally built in 1608, known as the Prevention Gate.[7] In 1787, the gated entrance was replaced by the actual one, the Carlos III gate.

Pirates and politicians were usually jailed in the fortress. During the eighteen & 19 century, the ex-presidents Jacinto Peynado and Horacio Vásquez did some time in the prison.[4] In 1937, under the leadership of Rafael Trujillo, the outside walls were crenellated. In 1965, the Fortaleza ceased to serve as a prison and became a public building.

In 1965, in the month of April, the Patriotic War broke out, led by a group of soldiers and the people, electing Colonel Francisco Caamano as Constitutional President of the Republic on May 4. During the Government of Colonel Francisco Alberto Caamaño Deño, the Ozama Fortress ceased to be a military compound by Law No. 11 of President Caamaño, being converted into a public place, with the name of Plaza de la Constitución, Law contained in the Official Gazette No. 4 of your Government. There are bullets holes in the doors dating from 1965, due to the fighting in the Dominican Civil War.[3]

Description Edit

The length of the city walls in 1785. The Ozama Fortress is one of the surviving sections. Model exhibits at the Museo de las Casas Reales in Santo Domingo

The Fortaleza is located at the end of Las Damas Street. Its name is due to its location near the Ozama River.

The statue in front of the building depicts Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés, governor of the fortress from 1533 to 1557, and author of Historia General y Natural de las Indias. The statue was imported from Salamanca, Spain in 1977, and was made by the artist Joaquín Vaquero Turcio[4][3]

The central tower of the building is 18-meter high, with walls 2-meter thick.[3] The fortified walls around the building are 3-meter thick, except on the river-side where the walls are 1-meter thick. The cement holding the stone walls together is a mixture of gypsum, clay, lime and the blood of animals.[6]

Notable prisoners Edit

Juan Nepomuceno Ravelo(1843) Trinitario

Félix Mercenario (1843) Trinitario

Pedro Pablo de Bonilla(1843) ex-president of Supreme Court of the Dominican Republic

Narciso Sánchez Ramón (1843) father of Francisco del Rosario Sánchez

Luis Betances(1843) Trinitario

José María Leyba Ramírez(1843) Trinitario

Manuel Leguizamón(1843) Trinitario

Silvano Pujol(1843) former secretary of the Central Government Board[8]

Manuel José Machado(1843) Trinitario

Pedro Valverde y Lara(1843) Trinitario

Gabriel José de Luna (1843) Trinitario

Juan Pablo Duarte (1844) founder of the Dominican Republic

Francisco del Rosario Sánchez (1844) former president of the Dominican Republic

Matías Ramón Mella (1844) revolutionary and military general

Juan Isidro Pérez (1844) member and co-founder of the secret society La Trinitaria

María Trinidad Sánchez (1845) was a Dominican separatist

Andrés Sánchez (1845) Trinitario

Antonio Duvergé (1849) military general

Dionisio Valerio de Moya (1866)[9]

Gregorio Urbano Gilbert, guerrilla fighter

Alejandro Woss y Gil, former president

Rafael Alburquerque, former vice president

Eduardo Read Barreras[10]

Antinoe Fiallo Rodríguez

Rafael Leonidas Aybar Astacio

Carlos Parahoy (1888)

Pablo Báez Lavastida (1889) ex judge of the Supreme Court of Justice

Eusebio Manzueta (1873)

Cnel Basilio Gavilán (1873).

Eugenio Miches (1868-1874)

Bernabé Sandoval (1868-1874)

Eugenio Generoso de Marchena(1892)

Ramón Castillo (1889)

José Estay (1889)

Remigio Zayas (1903)

Juan de la Cruz Rojas (1903)

Leopoldo Espaillat a Polín (1903)

Andrés Navarro Castro(1903)

Manuel de Jesús Gómez a Pelén (1903)

Benito Moción (1865)

Manuel Rodríguez (1867)

Carlos Báez (1867) brother of Buenaventura Báez

Luis Tejera Bonetti (1911)

Mauricio Jimenes (1912)

Joaquín Barba (1807)

Cnel Elías Anderson y Laya (1906)

Carlos Anderson (1906)

Pedro Livio Cedeño

Fabio Fiallo (1920)[11]

Gallery Edit

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ "Colonial City of Santo Domingo. Outstanding Universal Value". UNESCO World Heritage Centre website.
  2. ^ "The Fortress of Santo Domingo also known as Fortaleza Ozama".
  3. ^ a b c d Inside the Fortaleza Ozama,
  4. ^ a b c (in Spanish) Lauterio Vargas, Historia de la Fortaleza Ozama,, 28 September 2013
  5. ^ Harvey, Sean; Fullman, Joe (1 January 2009). The Rough Guide to the Dominican Republic. Rough Guides. p. 76. ISBN 978-1-85828-811-6. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  6. ^ a b c The Fortress of Santo Domingo also known as Fortaleza Ozama,
  7. ^ Tuider, Katherine; Caplan, Evan (4 January 2012). Dominican Republic (Other Places Travel Guide). Other Places Publishing. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-935850-09-0. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  8. ^ S, Yunior Andres Castillo (2015-01-07). "República Dominicana – Gobiernos y gobernantes desde 1844 hasta 2016". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2023-02-21.
  9. ^ "Calles y avenidasDionisio Valerio de Moya y Portes". Hoy Digital. 2010-04-25. Retrieved 2023-02-21.
  10. ^ "Presidentes de la Suprema Corte de Justicia: Lic. Eduardo Read Barreras (28)". Acento (in European Spanish). Retrieved 2023-02-21.
  11. ^ "Los centros de torturas de la dictadura de Trujillo: La Fortaleza Ozama (1)". Acento (in European Spanish). Retrieved 2023-02-21.
  12. ^ "Poesía de Abril". Diario Libre website.