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Las Atarazanas
The Atarazanas

Atarazana is a word of Arabic origin. In Spanish it means naval yard or warehouse. The term was imported by the first settlers. The Atarazanas on the Ozama River were used to store the cargo brought by the ships to be sold locally or transshipped. A look at the city map of Santo Domingo will reveal how dose these warehouses are to the Embarcadero: just a few feet from where the ships emerged. These warehouses were the property of the Spanish Crown. The Atarazanas of Santo Domingo are the oldest in the New World and they constitute the only buildings of this type that have survived almost intact in America. In Europe only the .Royal Atarazanas of Barcelona are comparable.

Their construction began in 1509. Ovando had already conduded his administration and Governor Diego Columbus was already on the island. Two of the three naves of the Atarazanas were lateral and symmetric. And there is a central nave, which is slightly wider. In 1525 the work was in progress. In 1536 the roof was still thatched.

The Welsers from Ausburg were bankers to Emperor Charles V. And they were granted the use of the Atarazanas of Santo Domingo. They used them to conquer and rule Venezuela.

After 1541, the north and central naves were covered with a stone roof. The third nave remained without a vault. Later it received a Roman roof.

The entrance portico belongs to a somewhat later period. It was erected only in front of the two vaulted naves. This portico belongs to the mid-eighteenth century, or perhaps later.

The Atarazanas were not damaged by Drake. Their structure was not affected either by the strong earthquakes later on. Just like the CathedraL they have reached us almost intact. The Justices of the Court lived there until the Casas Reales were built.

Bastidas Chapel: constructed between 1535 and 1540.

Suazo Chapel: under construction in 1540.

Geraldini Chapel: concluded between 1540 and 1550.

Sacrarium Chapel, where Diego Caballero is buried: under construc-tion in 1540.

These were the chapels desecrated by Drake.

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Content EDUCA1998 - Copyright CaribSeek 2004 - All Rights Reserved - Web Published: February 27, 2004