Santiago de los Treinta Cabelleros or simply Santiago (English: Saint James of the Knights) is the second-largest city in the Dominican Republic, and the fourth-largest city in the Caribbean. It is the capital of the Santiago Province and the major metropolis in the north-central region of the country. Its urban population reaches 550,753 inhabitants, and if rural areas are included its population rises to 691,262. Santiago is located approximately 155 km (96 mi) northwest of Santo Domingo with an average altitude of 178 meters (584 ft).
Founded in 1495 during the first wave of European settlement in the New World, the city is the “first Santiago of the Americas”. Today the city is one of the Dominican Republic’s cultural, political, industrial, and financial centers. Due to its location in the fertile Cibao Valley it has a robust agricultural sector and is a leading exporter of rum, textiles, and cigars. Santiago is known as “La Ciudad Corazón” (the “Heartland City”).
The colony originally was located in the city of Jacagua, which was founded in 1495, but when it was destroyed by an earthquake it was moved to its current location in 1506. In granting in 1508 the Royal Privilege of Concession de Armas to the Villa de Santiago of Hispaniola, the heraldic emblem that was included in his shield was venerated. The royal decree signed by King Ferdinand as administrator of the kingdoms of his daughter Joanna I of Castile.
Santiago de los Caballeros has historically been the capital of the country, and was an important strategic city in the Dominican War of Independence. The name of the city, Saint James of the Knights refers to the Hidalgos de la Isabela, a group of knights who had come from La Isabela city to stay in Santiago. When they got back to Spain they put a formal complaint before the king stating that their horses had been unfairly commissioned as beasts of burden and their weapons had been appropriated by the Columbus brothers (Diego and Bartolomew) and that they had been made to do manual labor, something considered beneath their station as knights, who were meant to engage only in battle. Sometimes the city is called Santiago de los 30 Caballeros (English: Saint James of the 30 Knights).
Museums in the city include the Museo Folklórico Yoryi Morel which exhibits Santiago’s Carnival culture, and displays some garments worn by lechones of Santiago Province in the Carnival, as well as those worn in other provinces. The museum is named after noted Santiago painter Yoryi Morel. Museo del Tabaco or The Tobacco Museum which shows manufacturing methods as well as the effect of the tobacco plantations along the city’s history, the Museo Histórico Fortaleza San Luis or Historic San Luis Fort Museum which previously served as a municipal prison., the Museo de los Héroes de la Restauración or Restoration Heroes Museum is currently under Construction and houses a display of pictures from the Restoration War from the 1863–1865 battles between the Dominican Government and the Spanish army. and Centro León which displays elements of the Caribbean and Dominican cultures, Natural Dominican History, Native Indian Evolution and Culture.