Sosua: Its Art

Sosua: Its Art is one of three important tourism and expatriate towns on the north coast of the Dominican Republic.

Unlike most resort towns in the West Indies, its roots are not West Indian, but 20th-century European.

In 1938, a group of Jewish professionals and their families were trying to escape from the Nazis and were looking for a country to settle in. The only one that would accept them was the Dominican Republic, at that time governed by President Rafael Trujillo, himself a fascist. So it seems odd that he would give them land to settle on to start a new life in Sosua, but he did. He gave the 800 of them land for dairy farming—none of them having farmed before.

Sosua Jewish Community

Sosua Jewish Community

Here they built homes, a synagogue, schools and started the very popular dairy products company, Productos de Sosua—cheeses and butter made from 100% grass-fed cow’s milk. You can visit the synagogue and the adjacent museum tracing that traces the communities’ history in the Dominican Republic with photographs and historical artifacts.

Jewish Museum of Sosua

Jewish Museum of Sosua

The arrival of the European Jews started a history of foreigners settling in Sosua. Today there are Germans, English, French, Russians (it is very popular with them), Poles, Americans, and Canadians—forty nationalities in all.

Many of them are artists or art collectors. One such man is Rolf R. Schulz, who owns the Castillo Mundo King – a home/art gallery/museum. It glistens high on top of a hill overlooking the town and the ocean beyond.

Castillo del Mundo King Sosua

Castillo del Mundo King Sosua

It looks like a castle along the Rhine, but with modern lines, painted white and filled with Haitian and Dominican paintings and sculptures.

Most of them are of the primitive and Africa Schools. All are very impressive. Some are gargantuan heads carved from rounded black granite; river rock hauled over from the rivers of Haiti.

Hours: 7 days a week, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., 300 pesos ($7.50) donation, and very well worth it.

El Batey is a neighborhood of town with a variety of small boutiques and quaint, cozy shops and galleries along  Artist Road, which leads to the beach. Here visitors can buy original arts and crafts created by local, national and expatriate artists

Travel Pictures Ltd

Paintings

Scientists unearth thousand-year old Taino agricultural field

Taino artifacts that according to experts are over one thousand years old, including an agricultural field that was found intact and dating back to the pre-Columbian period, have been found in an archaeological site project in Rio San Juan, on the country’s north coast.

Taino artifacts, Dominican Republic

Taino artifacts

The Tainos were the original inhabitants of the island. The project is funded by the “Playa Grande Resort,” near Rio San Juan in collaboration with the Museum of Dominican Man and the Institute for Anthropological Research of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo.

The artifacts, unearthed in an archaeological excavation, were turned over to the Museum of Dominican Man in Santo Domingo.

The “Playa Grande” project, currently under construction, will sponsor and open a local museum that will exhibit the Taino pieces.

The collection will artifacts plus to the “Rio San Juan” tourism offer, situated on the country’s north coast.

The archaeological site has also unearthed a field with agricultural lots that have been perfectly preserved for almost a thousand years. The lots are three to four meters wide and some 50 to 70 inches high.

The native population grew corn, cassava, and other vegetables in these plots. It is the first time that they are found intact in the Caribbean region.

Also found in what was once a Taino settlement were the remains of several individuals, as well as a rare coin, minted in 1505 in Seville, Spain for use in the Americas. Ceramics, axes, hammers, grates, shells, Spanish pottery, a Spanish glass bead, and bronze and iron pieces.

Taino, Dominican Republic

Visit “La Isabela,” the first European settlement in the Americas

On January 6, 1494, Christopher Columbus officially founded “La Isabela,” the first European settlement to be built in the New World.

The settlement was named after the Queen of Spain. In spite of the prestigious name, the settlement did not last very long.

By the end of the 15th century, the settlement had been abandoned and the colonizers had moved on to found the cities of La Vega, in the country’s central region, and the capital city of Santo Domingo.

Visitors to “La Isabela” must first stop in the town of “El Castillo,” situated a short distance from Luperon, in the province of Puerto Plata. The highway is in good condition, and getting to it easy.

Today, the ruins of “La Isabela” are there for everyone to visit. The remains of the colonial settlement are situated within the recently established “La Española” National Park.

There is a small museum exhibiting ceramic, stone and iron artefacts discovered during various archaeological excavations. Beside the ocean are the remains of what once were the walls of the settlement.

Also found are the ruins of the home originally built by Christopher Columbus, as well as the foundation of the first church built in the Americas and of the town’s warehouses.

Clearly visible are the remains of the Spanish cemetery and an open tomb with the visible remains of a colonizer who died during the first years of the colonization process.

For more information, visitors should contact the Vice Ministry of Protected Areas: 809 567 4300, or write to them at areas.protedias@ambiente.gov.do