Parque Histórico La Vega Vieja
<img src="../parks/parks-lavega.gif" width="120" height="85" align="right">Before an earthquake leveled the town in 1562, La Vega was growing rich on sugar-cane production and the discovery of gold. Columbus built a fort to protect the town from the Taino Indians, founded the New World's first coin mint in La Vega, as well as the island's inaugural brothel and archbishopric. The national park protects the ruins of Old Vega, which are mainly of the fort. <br> <br> These ruins are overlooked by a hill called Santo Cerro (Holy Hill). Legend has it that on March 25, 1495, Columbus planted a cross on Santo Cerro during a fierce battle with the Tainos. When the Indians tried to pull it down, the Virgin Mary appeared behind the cross. This apparition frightened the Tainos, and Columbus seized the opportunity to win the battle. The site where Columbus is supposed to have planted the cross, the Santo Hoyo de la Cruz (Holy Hole of the Cross) is preserved in the Iglesia Las Mercedes, one of the prettiest churches in the Dominican Republic. As you enter the church grounds, there is a tree surrounded by a fence on your right. This is apparently a descendant of the medlar tree which provided the wood for Columbus' cross. Whether you believe this story or not, the views of the Cibao Valley from Santo Cerro are excellent.<br> <br> <span class="bigsubtitle">Fact File</span><br> <br> <b>Access:</b> Infrequent carros leave from La Vega to make the 5km trip up to Santo Cerro, from where you can access the Parque Histórico La Viega Vieja.
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