Cramped, dusty and one hundred percent concrete, HIGÜEY is a busy agro-commercial town of 150,000 that’s generally passed through quickly on your way to the eastern coast. Despite the uninviting setting, it’s famous throughout the country as a Dominican holy city, and tens of thousands gather here each January 21 for a mammoth procession and prayer of intercession to the nation’s patron saint, the Virgin of Altagracia, who supposedly provides miraculous healing to those who make the pilgrimage. Even if you don’t believe in the wonders of the Virgin, you should not pass up the chance to have a peek at the cathedral, whose unprepossessing exterior belies a far more impressive interior, containing some stunning modern stained-glass windows and an inventive carved wooden altarpiece. A further hour can happily be whiled away, browsing the bustling market.

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Video: 14 things we love about the Dominican Republic

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