Officially known as the San Felipe de Puerto Plata and named for its beautiful iridescent beaches, Puerto Plata is the 9th largest city in the Dominican Republic. There are plenty of resorts and hotel beds to take advantage of, as the city is known for places such as Playa Dorada and Costa Dorada, and is the home of a Carnival Cruise port – Amber Cove. Around the area are museums and adventure parks, but let’s dive into what really creates Puerto Plata – it’s history.
A City of Firsts
The year of founding for Puerto Plata is debated. Some say it was founded around the same time as La Isabela – the first village of the New World – in 1494. Nicolas of Ovando, however, recorded its founding in 1502, while others record its founding in 1503 or 1504, and still others say 1505 or 1506, and even 1496. Historians just aren’t sure when exactly Puerto Plata became a village or a town, instead of just a place that people settled.
In the first trip by Christopher Columbus, he observed the mountain had a frequently silver-like fog around it, so it was named Monte de Plata. The port followed, and the city was designed by Bartolome Columbus and Christopher in 1496. Nicolas de Ovando, however, says that a port existed on the island's Northern cost in 1502, and the town began to grow in importance due to the port. However, in 1555, that growth was lost, due to being plagued by pirates near-constantly, and in 1605 it was depopulated destroyed, on Spanish King Felipe III’s orders.
Later, however, in the 1700s, the town sprung up again, this time full of farmers from the Canary Islands. In the Quasi-War, an undeclared conflict between the United States and France in the late 1700s, U.S. Marines actually attacked the French ship in the harbor, and Fortaleza San Felipe. They captured the privateer Sandwich, and retired victorious after spiking the guns of the fort. The battle was called the Battle of Puerto Plata Harbor.
Puerto Plata was underneath Haitian control for twenty years, 1822 to 1844, after which began the republic period, and the city finally began to return to its greatness. It grew as European immigrants came in, leaving a unique cultural footprint that exists in the city still today. That wasn’t the end of Puerto Plata’s worries, though, as it was demolished completely in the Dominican Restoration War in 1863.
Rebuilding began in 1865, which is why much of the architecture is Victorian in nature. By the beginning of the 19th century, Puerto Plata regained its footing once more, and continues to be known for its cultural, maritime, economics, and social aspects.The culture of Puerto Plata is unique and beautiful, much like its beaches, mountains, ocean, and scenery. Though the city has been through much in its hundreds of years of trying to exist, it is a booming resort town today, one that you should definitely take advantage of.