The Parque Independencia, with its stone entrance, Puerta del Conde, is the symbolic heart of the country. It was here that the Dominican flag was raised for the first time by Ramón Mella on February 27, 1844, creating an independent Dominican Republic. Mella and his fellow Trinitarians - Juan Pablo Duarte and Francisco del Rosario Sánchez - are interred in the massive marble mausoleum to the rear. Known as the Altar de la Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), it's open daily from 8:30 am to
6 pm. Admission is free; no shorts are allowed. Every day at 5:30 pm, two soldiers appear and lower the flag. Though it's a rather unceremonious affair with no pomp and circumstance, Dominicans in the immediate vicinity will stop whatever they are doing to stand at attention until the flag is down and folded and the soldiers have walked away.
The huge star in the center of the park is Kilometer 0, from which all distances in the country are measured. Notice what appears to be a moat surrounding the park. These are parts of the Colonial sewer system that have since been drained, and can be explored if you wish.
Returning to El Conde, walk four blocks east to Calle José Reyes, going north to Calle Mercedes and the last stop on the tour.
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