Cultural tourism in the Dominican Republic: Discover Higüey

One of the best ways to get to know a new place is through cultural tourism, which highlights the best aspects of a country and allows visitors to engage in activities, rituals, and celebrations pertaining to that culture. You can experience local art, heritage, landscapes, traditions, religion, and lifestyles all in one place. Come along while we show you why you should experience cultural tourism in Higuey, the biggest city in the province of La Altagracia.

What is Higuey?

The first thing you should know before visiting Higuey is the origin of its name. The etymological origin of its name is gûey or huiou which means sun in Taíno. Higuey was named after a cacicazgo, which was a special type of territorial distribution that divided the lands back in the days.

Nowadays, Higuey has many religious sites and imagery with a strong catholic background which are remarkable. By touring in Higuey you will learn more about the history of religion in the Dominican Republic as practiced today, enjoy the beautiful city and the mesmerizing architecture of the Basilica of Altagracia, San Dionisio church, and engage in many other activities around town.

When is the best time to go?

La Altagracia has a monsoon climate which provides high temperatures throughout the year. The best time to visit Higuey is during the months of August through January, where you can experience warm climate and moderate precipitation. The average maximum temperature is 31° C in August and 28° in January, to give you a good idea.

How to navigate Higuey?

Navigating a new city on your own can be challenging, taking into consideration the language barrier and the many places there are to explore. To set the tone for your trip, you can book one of our tour guide services here so you can explore the city with a guide that will make the most out of your trip. You should expect to receive only the best private transportation service which allows you to choose between different vehicle sizes according to your needs.

Discovering Higuey

Now, let’s get on to Higuey, where you will discover a bustling town with beautiful churches and plenty of museums that will help you find out why this city is one of the most emblematic ones in the Dominican Republic. These are the highlighted places you must visit in Higuey:

Basilica Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia

As aforementioned, there is a strong religious background in the province of La Altagracia, representing the patrona (saint) which is the virgin of La Altagracia. La Altagracia was a painting brought to the island by Spanish missionaries in the colonial era, introducing catholicism into the country. Nowadays, this painting appears in the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia.

The basilica is a large gray sculpture in the shape of a Latin cross. The entrance door is made of gold-plated bronze and was blessed by Pope Juan Pablo II in Rome. It has a bell tower with 45 bronze bells. Every year thousands of pilgrims visit this monument to ask and thank the Holy Patron of the Dominican People for favors as well as thousands of Dominicans that gather to worship the saint.

Parroquia de San Dionisio

This is a beautiful sanctuary reminiscent of the colonial era when it was built, between 1569 and 1572. It consists of a vaulted ceiling that is supported by five strong arches. The dome has the shape of a half orange, while the space occupied by the main altar resembles a seashell. The decoration of the dome features a star formed of stone and arches with beautiful rose windows. The sanctuary is home to many objects of great historical and religious value, including a gold crown and precious stones that were donated by the Dominican people on August 15, 1922, in celebration of the canonical and pontifical coronation of the painting of the Virgin of la Altagracia.

San José church

It’s a popular church amongst the Dominican population in the area, offering weekly services, especially on Sundays. It is located in the San José neighborhood in a very central and accessible area of the city. While the outer design is a simple design that consists and allows the church to be seen from a distance, the inside bears many decorative elements such as religious carvings and the main altar for visitors to appreciate the interior of this church.

Tobacco Museum

This museum offers a glimpse into the history of the cultivation and tradition of tobacco products in this area of the Dominican Republic. Visitors will be able to learn about how tobacco is grown, collected, and treated until it's ready to be turned into the cigars that are usually sold. The entry is free for tourists and Dominicans and it offers cigars to adult smokers and the chance to try the traditional Mamajuana liquor. You can also purchase souvenirs such as clay pots and objects and traditional jewelry.

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