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Photographer's Note

Along with Punta Cana in the South East, Puerto Plata, in the North coast, is renowned as an all-inclusive beach resort, maybe one of the hugest ones in the Caribbean. Wikipedia states that the area has more than 100000 hotel beds (the population of the town is 200000) and I suppose that this doesn't include the resorts that are a bit farther away from the town. My guidebook calls it the "mass tourism capital of the Caribbean". However, surprisingly it is a very nice town that doesn't look that touristy. Maybe August isn't exactly high season, but considering that the hotels were far from deserted, we were surprised that there were almost no tourists in the old part of the town. I guess that more than 90% of the tourists that go to Puerto Plata and Dominican Republic in general only leave their hotels for one or two guided tours.

The town had a turbulent past, having been almost completely destroyed more than once and alternating some periods of wealth and glory with large periods of almost complete desertion and/or absence of law. The first Spanish settlement dates from 1502 and during part of the 16th century it was an important harbour that supplied the Spanish ships coming from from Mexico to Spain. But in the end of that century, it was replaced by Havana in that role, mainly because of the increasing risk posed by the pirates, who eventually ended up using the zone as a base, after the Spaniards forced most of the population to leave and move South. In the 18th century the town was repopulated with people from the Canary Islands, but in the next century it was almost totally demolished by nationalist armies during a war against the Spanish forces. Apart from an old Spanish fort that is much older, most of the old part of town dates from the later 19th century, when the tobacco industry made the fortune of wealthy people of the town, most of them German exporters. Some built fabulous mansions that resisted until now. During that time, Puerto Plata was one of the most cosmopolitan and wealthiest towns of the Caribbean. The tobacco business declined when the US took possession of the customs receipts of Dominican Republic in the early 20th century and made difficult the tobacco trade with Germany, the main destination of exports. Sugar replaced tobacco as the source of wealth of the town and the place kept his glory and kept increasing its population and factories until the Great Depression of 1929 ruined the businesses. They had to wait for the 1960's for an economic revival brought by sugar industry again and the renovation of the port. Then, in the 1970's it was the beginning of the mass tourism.

I didn't find anything about this half ruined mansion. It looks like a public building (school, museum, government department or anything like it) and I wonder if it wasn't the home of some important historic figure of the 19th century "War of Restoration" that resulted in the second independence of the country from the Spaniards (the first one was in 1844 from the Haitians, who occupied the country for 22 years).

Location (latitude, longitude): 19.79967,-70.6912

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Update 9-Oct-2007: Thank's to Emile, now I know that the building is the siege of a Masonic Lodge, the Logia Restauraci髇 number 11 and dates from the 25th September of 1867. It is one of the best kept old constructions in Puerto Plata.

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Additional Photos by Jose Pires (stego) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4422 W: 612 N: 7301] (24132)
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