Altos de Chavón is a re-creation of a mediterranean style European village located atop the Chavón River in La Romana, Dominican Republic. It is the most popular attraction in the city and hosts a cultural center, an archeological museum, and an amphitheater. The project was conceived by the Italian architect Roberto Copa, and the industrialist Charles Bluhdorn.
he project began in 1976 when the construction of a nearby road and bridge crossing the Chavón River had to be blasted through a mountain of stone. Charles Bludhorn, chairman of Paramount then parent Gulf+Western, had the idea of using the stones to re-create a sixteenth-century style Mediterranean village, similar to some of the architecture found in the historic center of Santo Domingo. Construction was completed in the early 1980s.
Charles Bluhdorn’s daughter, Dominique Bluhdorn, is the current president of the Altos de Chavón Cultural Center Foundation. Narrow, cobble-covered alleyways lined with lanterns and shuttered limestone walls yield several good Mediterranean-style restaurants, a number of quaint shops featuring the diverse craftwork of local artisans, and three galleries exhibiting the talents of students from the on-site design school (La Escuela de Diseño, an affiliate of Parsons School of Design in New York City). Notable attendees of the Altos de Chavón Design School have included Lisa Thon and Mía Lourdes Taveras López.
Adding authenticity to the project is the charming St. Stanislaus Church (Iglesia San Estanislao de Cracovia in Spanish) with its plaza and sparkling fountain that is a popular wedding venue. The Church of St Stanislaus was named after the patron saint of Poland in tribute to Pope John Paul II, who visited Santo Domingo in 1979 and left some of the saint’s ashes behind. It was in this church that Louis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou married Venezuelan heiress Maria Margarita de Vargas y Santaella on November 6, 2004.
A Roman-styled 5,000-seat amphitheater hosts 20th century musical acts—The Pet Shop Boys, Frank Sinatra, and Julio Iglesias to name a few—while Génesis nightclub provides a popular dance venue for guests from the Casa de Campo resort nearby. Visitors shouldn’t miss the Regional Museum of Archaeology (El Museo Arqueológico Regional), an astonishing collection of pre-Columbian Indian artifacts unearthed in the surrounding area. Altos de Chavón overlooks Rio Chavón and the Dye Fore golf course of Casa de Campo; both built by former Gulf+Western chairman Charles Bluhdorn.