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Mercado Modelo, Santo Domingo

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The Mercado Modelo (model market) is located in downtown Santo Domingo near the calle de El Conde and on the way to Avenida Mella. This boisterous shopping site is the largest craft market in the capital. It is surrounded by food stalls catering to local shoppers, and was once a popular local marketplace. Today, its items and prices are geared towards the tourist, although Dominicans do come here to buy some articles.

The Mercado Modelo in Santo Domingo is made up of dozens of similar stores selling typical crafts of the country paintings (many of them Haitian), Dominican and Cuban cigars, liquors, keepsakes, and jewelry, among other things. This really is a one-stop shop for all your souvenir shopping. Look for distinctive amber jewelry and spiced liquor supposed to have aphrodisiac qualities. Also worth checking out are the impressive carnival masks.

Stated prices are notably higher at the Mercado Modelo than at other markets, but are subject to much negotiation. Salespeople can be pushy and are not to be trusted, but they do accept most offers for merchandize.

The area around the Mercado Modelo is not the nicest in Santo Domingo, so it is best to travel to the market in a taxi (you can ask for “Modelo market”), although walking is safe in daylight hours.

Older Dominicans remember the market as a place to buy produce, prepared dishes, and other essentials, but although it is no longer a true urban market, this remains a good shopping stop on a Dominican vacation. This writer bought several jewelry pieces and other knick knacks, at fair prices (after much haggling).

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