Ramón Matías Mella bridge

Villa Mella Travel Guide


Villa Mella Travel Guide

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During your stay in Punta Cana, you’ll be able to take the opportunity to visit every inch of the Dominican Republic. You’re probably thinking about beaches, forests, colonial areas… But, one of the most special places in the country that attracts the most visitors is the area of San Felipe de Villa Mella, known for preserving its African roots and customs, which have remained intact despite the passing of the years, and that is also known for maintaining its rich heritage. 

San Felipe de Villa Mella, also called Villa Mella for short (especially among its inhabitants), is a municipality located in the northern part of the country’s capital, Santo Domingo, although many consider it to be a neighbourhood within the city as a result of the city’s expansion in recent years. However, Villa Mella has a unique character due to its special characteristics that give it a very different feel from the rest of the city. 

How to get to San Felipe de Villa Mella

Getting here is very easy and uncomplicated for those who decide to visit Villa Mella. Without a doubt, the most comfortable way is to travel to the city of Santo Domingo from any point on the island, since it’s very well connected with places like Playa Bávaro, and from here you should take the underground, line 1, from the Los Taínos station for a journey of less than 10 minutes to the Gregorio Luperon station, which is located in the Villa Mella area. If you prefer, you also have the option of taking a taxi for a more comfortable journey, or walking the 9 kilometres that separate Villa Mella from the centre of Santo Domingo for a walk full of contrasts, colours and beautiful images that will surprise you with every step. Any option is perfectly valid for getting to Villa Mella. Here we go!

What to do in San Felipe de Villa Mella

Once you get to San Felipe de Villa Mella by any of the means of transport we mentioned or by foot, you’ll see that you’re now in a different area, as you’ll start to feel the African spirit of the place take over, allowing you to discover one of the most exotic sides of the island. You probably weren’t expecting something like this!

In addition to these contrasts and the heritage of the place, you should know that what really makes Villa Mella the most special is one of the most important and relevant tourist attractions in the area, the Congos of the Holy Spirit. The Congos are a local brotherhood with more than 300 years of history that performs live music full of rhythm to the percussion of the African drum, the Congo, whose rhythm neither you nor your feet will be able to resist, as you move to the music and to the sound of their clapping. Such is the importance of these Congos and people’s interest in them that, in 2001, the Brotherhood of the Congos of the Holy Spirit was proclaimed a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, meaning the associations in the area do everything possible to preserve them and make sure they’re heard by those who come to visit this little slice of Africa in the Dominican Republic. Pure magic!

 music in the Dominican Republic

If you have the chance, it’s important for you to know that the Congos of Villa Mella become especially important at the time of year that coincides with the celebration of the Christian holiday of Pentecost, as well as at funerals. In the latter, which are more complicated for visitors to attend, they dedicate 21 songs to the deceased with their instruments, which include congos, conguitos and maracas, among others. But without a doubt, the religious feast days are truly a sight to behold, celebrations full of music and colour to brighten up the days in Villa Mella that you should try to experience, if possible. Choosing to travel on these dates has its reward. 

During your visit to San Felipe de Villa Mella, in addition to enjoying the congos, you’ll be able to walk through streets in which African life is perfectly fused with Dominican life, giving the island a unique flavour, smell and vibe. 

During your trip to San Felipe de Villa Mella, you can take advantage of its proximity to the main tourist destinations such as La Romana or Punta Cana, which you can visit as day trips.

In this area, you’ll also find small souvenir shops with typical products from the Dominican Republic. But there are also speciality shops where you can buy African objects, which are the result of the African roots that are so deeply engrained in San Felipe de Villa Mella, which have been preserved thanks to the efforts of the inhabitants who share them with excitement and pride. 

Of course, you’ll also find small, picturesque restaurants run by locals where you can try some of the authentic recipes that are passed down from generation to generation among the inhabitants of Villa Mella and that will allow you to enjoy your trip even more through your palate. 

Without a doubt, San Felipe de Villa Mella is a place that will allow you to enjoy a very different yet special side of the island. It may not be the best known area, but it will unquestionably be one of the parts you’ll remember most from your trip to the Dominican Republic.

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