MOCA, a sizeable farming depot 16km east of Santiago, is set amid some of the most fertile land in the valley. It’s better known, though, for two episodes from Dominican history – as the birthplace of the 1842 Moca Constitution, which set democratic standards for government that have rarely been adhered to, and as the site of nineteenth-century despot Ulises Heureaux’s assassination. There’s nothing here to commemorate the former, but the latter event is celebrated in downtown Moca at a small park on Calle Vasquez, where you’ll find the Monument to the Tyrant Killers, a small Deco sculpture honouring assassins José Contreras and José Inocencio, erected right on the spot where Heureaux was shot. Across the street from the park, above Espinal Car Wash, a miniature locomotive has been placed to honour the old railroad that brought initial prosperity to Moca, while the rest of downtown is crowded with storefront businesses, warehouses and restaurants.

Nicer than anything in the workaday downtown district, the nineteenth-century Iglesia de Corazón de Jesús, corner of Sánchez and Corazón de Jesús, sports a neo-Plateresque facade and a prominent clock tower. The spacious interior floods with light and boasts an impressive pipe organ. From the church you can also drive northwest down Avenida Duarte to the local cigar factory.

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