The Village On The Cliff
In an ingenious example of creating something monumental out of nothing, Charles Bluhdorn, the chairman and founder of Gulf & Western Corporation, the parent company of Paramount Pictures, had the brilliant idea of taking excavated rubble from a Dominican Republuc mountain to create a 16th century Mediterranean village near Casa de Campo, the now-legendary sanctuary that opened as the mogul’s personal retreat in 1975. Built on a 300-foot high plateau, the village was named Altos de Chavón for the river below and became one of Casa de Campo's most charming and exclusive resort amenities when the hotel was opened to the public in 1983.
Designed by Dominican architect Jose Antonio Caro and created by Italian costume and set designer, Roberto Coppa, the Mediterranean village was painstakingly built by Dominican masons, carpenters, and blacksmiths to handcraft each artistic detail and ensure the village’s authenticity.
A visit Altos de Chavón is complimentary for Casa de Campo guests and is a mere 15-minutes from the resort, making it an easy day-trip to learn more about the area.
Explore The Dominican Republic’s History, Art, And Culture
Upon arrival at Altos de Chavón, guests feel transported in time while strolling through charming cobblestone alleys, past bougainvillea-draped gardens, and fountains and plazas overlooking the sea. But it is the activity inside the village that truly brings the experience to life with abundant musical and dance performances, as well as art demonstrations. Adding to the cultural ambiance are galleries featuring works by artists from the Altos de Chavón School of Design, an affiliate of New York’s Parsons School of Design.
At the heart of the village is the main square and St. Stanislaus Church, home to ashes of Poland’s patron saint, which were gifted to Casa de Campo for Altos de Chavón by Pope John Paul II. Weekend visitors might be fortunate enough to see a grand wedding procession up the church steps, as it is one of the area’s most popular matrimonial spots.
A weaving workshop filled with gigantic looms, a welcoming, light-infused pottery studio, and creative silkscreen atelier are just a few of the workshops overseen by Emilio Robba, the respected French-Italian silk flower designer. Guests can meander through this living cultural center and spend hours immersed in the archeological museum with its rare collection of 3,000 pre-Columbian artifacts from the areas surrounding the village. Stop by the spectacular amber museum before setting off on a shopping excursion in the plazas to purchase local crafts created using centuries-old techniques.
Finishing the reconstructed village is a 5,000-seat Roman-style amphitheater that was inaugurated by Frank Sinatra when it opened in 1982. Since then, 20th century musicians including Julio Iglesias, the Pet Shop Boys, Andrea Bocelli, Jennifer Lopez, and Sting have performed there under star-filled skies.
To learn more about Casa de Campo or the Altos de Chavón excursion, please contact the concierge upon making a reservation.