Basílica de Higüey
Located in nearby Higüey and inaugurated in 1971, this cathedral ranks among the most important religious sites in the Dominican Republic. Honoring the Virgin of La Altagracia, patron saint of Dominicans, it’s a standout for its 69-meter or 225 feet high arch, with a bronze and gold entrance. The altar holds a framed painting of the Virgin Mary dating back to the 16th century, the centerpiece of devotion. One legend says that a sick child was healed after seeing the Virgin Mary appear at this site, near an orange tree, and that he later found her painted portrait under it. Every January 21, pilgrims from around the country flock here to pay their respects, lining up before the altar and making their requests. The celebrations continue around the cathedral with local food and drinks. Safari excursions from Punta Cana include a stop in Higüey for a tour of the cathedral.