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Founded in 1510, this is one of the oldest churches and convents in the West Indies. In the Colonial Zone, it lies just south of El Conde. This was the site of the New World's first university, San Tomé de Aquino, before it folded and moved on. Impressive pillars frame the stone facade, and blue Mudéjar tiles, evocative of Spain, run along the top of the portal. Vine ornamentation -- which the Spaniards call "Isabelline" style -- surrounds the circular window at the core of the church. Unfortunately, opening hours are extremely limited .

Across the plaza, at the corner of avenidas Duarte and Padre Billini, stands Capilla de la Tercera Orden Domínica, or the Chapel of the Third Dominican Order. Constructed in 1729, this is the only colonial monument in the city to reach the 21st century intact. Today, it is the office of the archbishop of Santo Domingo. Although you can stop to admire its impressive baroque facade, you're not allowed to peek inside.