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The Dominican Republic's second city, properly known as Santiago de los Caballeros, was in the 19th-century the wealthiest city in the nation, thanks to the tobacco industry. Today a thriving commercial center choked with traffic, Santiago (population 750,000) is still the center of cigar production; be sure to visit Fábrica de Cigarros La Aurora. Its downtown streets are lined with 19th-century structures in an amalgam of styles and centered on leafy Parque Duarte, the main square. The nation's finest museum and cultural center - Centro León - is here, too, as well as the dramatic 230-foot-tall Monumento a los Héroes de la ...

The Dominican Republic's second city, properly known as Santiago de los Caballeros, was in the 19th-century the wealthiest city in the nation, thanks to the tobacco industry. Today a thriving commercial center choked with traffic, Santiago (population 750,000) is still the center of cigar production; be sure to visit Fábrica de Cigarros La Aurora. Its downtown streets are lined with 19th-century structures in an amalgam of styles and centered on leafy Parque Duarte, the main square. The nation's finest museum and cultural center - Centro León - is here, too, as well as the dramatic 230-foot-tall Monumento a los Héroes de la Restauración, bequeathed by dictator-president Rafael Trujillo. Santiago buzzes by night and during Carnival, when revelers don fantastical devil masks, and high-brow culture is well developed; check out the events at the Gran Teatro del Cibao. The El Cibao region surrounding Santiago is quilted with bottle-green vegas (fields) where the world's finest tobacco is grown. The downtown is best explored on foot by day; but take a taxi by night.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Santiago is the second largest metropolis in the Dominican Republic in the northeast of the island of Hispaniola.
  • Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Dominican Peso
  • Research: Santiago | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    November to April dry season is also the coolest time of the year.