The "Sociedad Historica de Montecristi" is
dedicated to the history of the Province of Montecristi in the Northwest corner of the Dominican Republic. This history begins with the geology of the tectonic plate movements and the earthquakes that formed Montecristi's unique topography and climate and thereby determined its future. The earliest inhabitants, known as "Tainos", greeted Columbus on his first voyage in 1493, and in 1533 Spain established a small colony of Canary Islanders to exploit the natural resources.
The protected harbor with its 850 foot high El Morro landmark, became a flourishing port for sailing ships from many European nations, and the town prospered until 1605, when the Governor in Santo Domingo, envious of its success, arrested the entire population and burned the town to the ground and moved the inhabitants to a desolate area, away from the coast, on the other side of the island -- which, in turn, resulted in an economic collapse for the country. Without the convenient port of Montecristi, the trading ships went elsewhere.
In defiance of Governor Osorio, the inhabitants returned to Montecristi, rebuilt their port and town and resumed trading, and -- in spite of many hardships and battles with pirates and with their French neighbors, they regained their trade and prospered, until finally in 1756, the Spanish crown recognized the value of the port and its people, and officially founded it as a town: "San Fernando de Montecristi," and made it an open port with exoneration of all custom duties for ten years. Trade prospered and so began the growth of the modern Montecristi.
The Public Museum, "El Museo de Montecristi," with free admission for all, covers the period from the earliest geology up to this time of the official Founding of the town. Exhibits show the culture of the original Tainos, and the artifacts from the many shipwrecks in the area show the trade goods and lifestyle of the early settlers.
The history of Montecristi is a capsule history of the early Caribbean, with struggles to survive, battles, a population of mixed nationalities, free slaves, pirates, religious faith, courage, heroes, heroines and a lot of determination.
The non-profit Sociedad Historica de Montecristi is dedicated to making public this history as a source of civic pride and an inspiration to all.