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La Isabela or Villa Isabela

La Isabela or Villa Isabela was the second city founded in the New World (America) by the Spanish, in 1494. Christopher Columbus chose the site to replace the Fort of La Navidad, on the north coast of Hispaniola (current Dominican Republic, province of Puerto Plata).

The construction began at the end of December 1493 and the town was inaugurated on January 6, 1494 with the name of Isabela, in honor of Queen Isabel, it is a place full of stories that is worth visiting.

He appointed a government council to govern it, which included, among others, Antonio de Torres and Bernardo Boyl. The city was a mixture of port, shipyard, customs and warehouse, through which all traffic between the island and Spain was channeled. From 1496 its inhabitants began to emigrate to other parts of the island. By 1500 it had been completely abandoned. Today its ruins constitute an archaeological park.

The first mass in America was concelebrated in La Isabela or Villa Isabela on January 6, 1494, on the solemnity of the Epiphany, by Father Bernardo Boyl and twelve other priests who arrived with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage. The ruins of this first church founded in the New World can still be seen.

In the following centuries, the town fell into oblivion until, on the occasion of the celebration of the IV Centenary of the Discovery of America in 1892, various news about it and accounts of trips to its ruins were published.

In the middle of the 20th century, the first of a series of archaeological excavations began that have been revealing information about the buildings and the inhabitants of the town. In parallel, the ruins were suffering serious damage from treasure hunters and misguided interventions by public administrations.

Today the ruins of Isabela are an Archaeological Park very close to the community of El Castillo / La Isabela Histórica, municipality of Luperón, province of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

In the archaeological complex of Isabela four areas are currently distinguished:

  • “The Castle”, main core.
  • “Las Coles”, an agricultural, livestock and crafts area next to the mouth of the Bajabonico River.
  • An area of ​​quarries, from where the stone for the buildings was extracted.
  • The port-shipyard.

To learn about other important places in Puerto Plata, click here!

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