The fort has been tidied up and open to the public since the 1960's. You enter the complex through the dramatic Gate of Carlos III. The admission fee is less than a dollar, although you may be greeted by a tour guide who would like to give you a personal tour of the grounds for an additional fee. As usual, I like to tour a place solo if I can help it. Upon admission, you will get a little pamphlet (in Spanish only) with a nice site map and some historical information.
The Torre de Homenaje is a blocky medieval tower that is the most prominent structure of the fort. Its style is reminiscent of that of some countryside castles in Spain. The sturdy walls have a solid six feet thickness, as this tower was used as a prison. Climb up the stairs that lead you to the roof of the tower, from which you get some splendid views of Santo Domingo's surrounding landmarks and the Caribbean Sea. Note that you can go up the dark spiral stair inside, but a safer and more comfortable climb is via the exterior masonry stairs.
The fort also contains the Fuerte de Santiago (16th century) and the blocky powder house (18th century). The grounds are well maintained, and it is quite enjoyable to stroll about the walkways and lawns or relax on one of the benches. If you have the time, linger within the walls and stick around for the sunset.
April 19, 2002
From journal Bill in the Dominican Republic - SANTO DOMINGO