Santiago de Los Caballeros (pop: 690,000 in 1994) is the second largest city in the Republic and chief town of the Cibao valley in the north-central part of the country. The streets of the centre are busy, noisy, with lots of advertising signs; east of the centre it becomes greener, cleaner and quieter.
The Río Yaque del Norte skirts the city with Avenida Circunvalación parallel to it. In 1494 Columbus ordered a fort to be built on the banks of the Río Yaque del Norte at a place called Jacagua; the resulting settlement was moved to its present site in 1563, but was destroyed by an earthquake. It is now a centre for tobacco and rum.
On Parque Duarte are the Catedral de Santiago Apóstol, a neoclassical building (19th century) containing the tombs of the tyrant Ulises Heureux and of heroes of the Restauración de la República; the Museo del Tabaco (Tuesday-Saturday 0800-1200, 1500-1800), the Centro de Recreo (one of the country’s most exclusive private clubs) and the Palacio Consistorial. Also on Parque Duarte is the Plaza de la Cultura y Oficina Regional de Patrimonio Cultural, which holds art exhibitions. (closes 1230 on Saturday).
Other places worth visiting are the Pontífica Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (founded 1962, with good 50-metre swimming pool), the Museo Folklórico Tomás Morel, (0900-1700 free), and the Monumento a los Héroes de la Restauración, at the highest point in the city (panoramic views of the Cibao valley, remodelled in 1991 to include a mirador). Behind the monument is the newly-constructed theatre. Calle El Sol is the main commercial street, with both vendors and the main shops. The Instituto Superior de Agricultura is in the Herradura on the other side of the Río Yaque del Norte (Km 6).