Altos de Chavon: 16th century, Mediterranean charm
Once upon a time…two men decided to create an artisan village in the middle of the Dominican countryside. Strange? Not really, if you consider one of these men, American industrialist Charles Bluhdorn, is credited as the father of the Dominican tourism industry. Together with Italian architect and cinematographer Roberto Copa, he built this re-creation of an European style 16th century village in 1982, which became a widely recognized culture centre. It has been one of the most popular tourist attractions ever since. Its name: Altos de Chavon.
When the bridge crossing of the Chavon river had to be blasted through a mountain of stone in 1976, Charles Bluhdorn (who was the chairman of the American company Gulf+Westen) came with the idea of using the stones to create a European style, cobble-stoned village. He wanted to build something that reminded him a bit of the architecture found in the historic area of Santo Domingo. Altos de Chavon had its grand opening in 1982, when the real Frank Sinatra came and did a spectacular performance in the amphitheatre. Now it was opened for business!
Art and culture
The two gentleman did a great job, because as Altos de Chavon a replica of an old town that is very popular amongst tourists, it easily could have been kitsch. It became an artisan built town where art and creation is highly valued instead. It is an internationally recognized art and culture centre too. Students from La Escuala de Diseno, the on-site design school, are able to exhibit their work at the three galleries in Altos de Chavon.
The charming Saint Stanislav church is one of the reasons Altos de Chavon looks like an authentic village somewhere in medieval Spain or Italy. With it’s cute plaza and pretty fountain in front, it’s a very popular wedding venue. Spanish duke Louis Alphonse de Bourbon (yes yes, such a fancy name) even got married here in 2004! If you want to know more about this region’s history, visit The Regional Museum of Archeology, that has a collection of pre-Colombian Indian artifacts that have been found in the area. Furthermore, you can find numerous quaint shops where you can find beautifully handcrafted items by local artisans, and there are mediterranean style restaurants where you can sit down and grab a bite. And we already mentioned it: but the 5000-seat amphitheatre also draws a lot of public. Especially since big names like Enrique Iglesias, Frank Sinatra, and even Jennifer Lopez made their entrance.
How to get there
Altos de Chavon is located atop de Chavon river in La Romana, the 7th biggest city in the Dominican Republic. It’s a 55 minute drive from Punta Cana, so you can easily make it into a day trip! You can also book a tour, that leads you through the charming streets and gives you the chance to experience Altos de Chavon with a local guide. They can give you more information about the area as you wander through Madri- ehhhh Altos de Chavon!
If you could build your a replica of any place in the world, what would it be? Would you like to visit Altos de Chavon? Comment on our insta or FaceBook page: @bestofpuntacanaofficial
Photo: Merenba tour a tour that takes you to Altos de Chavon