Walking the cobblestones streets of Altos de Chavón transports you to a place where the old world meets the new. Limestone walls and lantern-lit alleyways combine with the lush Dominican countryside and calm flow of the Chavón River below to bring out the best of Mediterranean and Caribbean aesthetics. Here, what starts as a day of shopping for a local piece of art can easily turn into a night of drinks and dancing.
A replica of a medieval Mediterranean village, Altos de Chavón was built in the 1980s. This thriving art village began as a project of American industrialist Charles Bludhorn and was designed by Dominican architect Jose Antonio Caro and Italian set designer Roberto Coppa. Bludhorn envisioned a place where the rich and poor could come together to study fine arts.
A great way to start the day in Altos de Chavón is with an amiable stroll through the slender corridors and brilliant squares to admire the mountaintop village’s architectural wonders, such as The Church of St. Stanislaus. When the church was inaugurated, Pope John Paul II commemorated the event by bestowing the ashes of St. Stanislaus upon the congregation. Another memorable site is the 5,000-seat amphitheater, which has hosted some big names, and puts on concerts, symphonies, and theatrical events year-round.
The Altos de Chavón School of Design is the centerpiece of the art village’s creative scene. Students from around the world have passed through the corridors here and while many have gone back out into the world, the impact the school has made is clearly visible. The exhibits at The Gallery showcase the work of both rising Dominican artists looking to introduce themselves to the visitors from abroad while foreign artists can get insight into the local community. Surrounding the campus, an abundance of shops, studios, and boutiques cater to those in need of a unique piece of Caribbean art to add to their collections.
As the sun sets on Altos de Chavón, the village stays alive long into the night. Restaurants featuring cuisine from around the world as well as traditional Dominican fare make for a gourmet dining experience. After a candlelit meal, finish the night off with an expertly poured cocktail and enjoy live music filled with Caribbean rhythms or a quiet lounge where you can take in the paradisiacal setting.