Built in 1747 as a Jesuit church, the Panteón Nacional (Calle de las Damas and Mercedes, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sun., free) served mostly as a warehouse and a theater until 1958, when Rafael Trujillo had it converted into a shrine for the country’s most illustrious people. No doubt, he had selfish forethought of a memorial to himself, an idea that never materialized. Spanish dictator Francisco Franco donated the central chandelier.
Today, some of the Dominican Republic ’s most influential people and political figures are honored here and entombed behind marble walls. The building is constructed entirely of massive limestone blocks with a neoclassical facade. Shorts, tank tops, and sneakers are discouraged.