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La Isabela

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La Isabela

(Daily 0800-1745, US$1.20; there is a small museum with labels in Spanish and a brief description in English, a café, toilets and small gift shops selling artesanías. Guides are available.)

15 km west of Luperón is La Isabela, now a Parque Nacional Histórico. Here, on his second voyage, on 29 May 1493, Columbus landed with 1500 men on 17 ships. He founded the first European town in the Americas, with the first ayuntamiento and court, and here was said the first mass on 6 January 1494 by Fray Bernardo Boil. Only the layout of the town is visible. The story goes that Trujillo ordered the place cleaned up before an official visit, but his instructions were misunderstood and workers bulldozed the whole site, pushing the ruins into the sea. The restoration and archaeological excavation of La Isabela has uncovered a variey of ruins as well as Taíno and Macorix pottery and the first Hispanic ceramics. The Guayacán tree found growing around La Isabela was there before Columbus landed. The wood is very hard and the Guayacán is used to carve replicas of Taíno artefacts. To get there, take a tour from Puerto Plata, or a carro público from Villanueva y Kundhard, Puerto Plata, to La Isabela village, US$3.50, then a motoconcho to the ruins, US$5 return including wait at ruins, a lovely trip.

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