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The city's most important colonial buildings include the Catedral Santa María La Menor, called , America's First Cathedral, which states its distinction; the Alcázar de Colón, America's first castle, once the residence of Viceroy of the Indies Don Diego Colón, a son of Christopher Columbus; the Monasterio de San Francisco, the ruins of the first monastery in America; the Museo de las Casas Reales, the former Palace of the Governor General and the Palace of Royal Audiences; the Parque Colón (Columbus Park), a historic square; the Fortaleza Ozama, the oldest fortress in America; the Pantéon Nacional, a former Jesuit edifice now hosting the remains of various renowned members of the Dominican Order; and the Iglesia del Convento Dominico, the first convent in America.Throughout its first century, Santo Domingo was the launching pad for much of the exploration and conquest of the New World.

Founded by Bartholomew Columbus in 1496, it is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas, and was the first seat of Spanish colonial rule in the New World.The city was a prize fought over by various political factions over the succeeding decades of instability.In addition, the country had to fight multiple battles with Haiti; the Battle of March 19, Battle of March 30, Battle of Las Carreras, and Battle of Beler, are a few of the most prominent encounters, mentioned in the national anthem and with city streets named after them.Over the next two-thirds of a century Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic went through many revolutions, power changes, and occupation by the United States, 1916–24.The city was struck by hurricane San Zenón in 1930, which caused major damage.

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