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The Art of Altos de Chavón.


The biggest tourist attraction in La Romana, Dominican Republic, is Altos de Chavón, a re-creation of a medieval European village conceived from the imagination of Italian film set designer Roberto Copa and Charles Bluhdorn, a Vienna, Austria-born American industrialist and president of Gulf & Western Corporation who had this ´Mediterranean village´ built as a monumental ´birthday present´ for his daughter.  more...


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The biggest tourist attraction in La Romana, Dominican Republic, is Altos de Chavón, a re-creation of a medieval European village conceived from the imagination of Italian film set designer Roberto Copa and Charles Bluhdorn, a Vienna, Austria-born American industrialist and president of Gulf & Western Corporation who had this ´Mediterranean village´ built as a monumental ´birthday present´ for his daughter.

Gulf and Western dealt in many things, including commodities such as sugar, which is what originally bought Charles Bluhdorn to the Dominican Republic. Once here, like many others, the President of the company, fell in love with the beauty of the place, and consequently decided to build Altos de Chavon as a part of Casa de Campo luxury resort. Critics of the Casa de Campo /Altos de Chavon project say that to some extent it was created from the profits arising from the ´blood, sweat and tears´ of Dominican and Haitian laborers who toiled in the cane fields, cutting tons of sugar cane for less than $2.50 a day, throughout the 1970´s.

Altos de Chavón has developed into a hugely popular "living museum and artists´ colony" providing a beautiful and inspirational setting for Dominican based artists to live, work or study at the on-site Altos de Chavon School of Design. The two-year art and design program here focuses on four areas: fashion design, graphic design, interior design, and fine arts/illustration. The village hosts three major art galleries, featuring Dominican Republic paintings as well as many works by European and American artists. The Altos de Chavon craft ateliers are small production centers where trained local artisans produce ceramic, silk-screen, and woven-fiber products. No need to say that Altos de Chavón is perfect for gift shopping.

The Archeological Regional Museum, houses a fascinating collection pre-Columbian artifacts that give keen insight to the island´s rich history; the collection includes more than 3,000 pieces that have been featured in exhibits in museums in New York City, Paris and Seville.

Besides the numerous galleries and the Museum, Altos de Chavon offers a great variety of restaurants (some require evening reservations) and shops, a disco and an impressive Greco/Roman style amphitheatre which seats 5000 and has hosted some of the world´s leading stars. The theater was in fact inaugurated in 1982 with a concert by Frank Sinatra and drummer Buddy Rich and his orchestra. The story goes that Buddy Rich put so much effort in playing his drums that he ended up exhausted and had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance after his performance. Sinatra was also in excellent form but did not know where he was. Somewhere during his concert he thanked the people of Brazil for their hospitality.

Another highlight of Altos de Chavon is The Catholic Church of San Stanislaw (Iglesias San Stanislaw de Caronia in Spanish) in the center of the village with its plaza and sparkling fountain. The Church was named after the patron saint of Poland in tribute to Pope John Paul II, who visited Santo Domingo in 1979. Many couples from all over the world decide to get married here. Arrangements can be made directly with the priest or through the resorts. The costs involved with the private mass are reported to be around one thousand dollars.

If you´re a guest of the nearby La Romana resorts, I can highly recommend a visit. The view over the Altos de Chavon alone is worth the trip. (The village is free to guests at Casa de Campo, since it is part of that resort. All others pay a $25 admission fee). Don’t forget to check out local coach tour companies before immediately booking with your holiday company representatives. It is well known that tour ´deals´ and visits promoted by ´holiday reps´ tend to come at a premium price, and may not allow you as much time as you would like to look around this piece of re-imagined-history!

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