The history of St. Kitts is long and colorful, and often tumultuous too. The first settlers arrived nearly 5,000 years ago, while the first European to identify the island was none other than Christopher Columbus, on his second voyage in 1493. Over the next several centuries the French and English (and occasionally the Spanish) would repeatedly fight for control of St. Kitts before it emerged as one of the richest islands in the Caribbean, thanks to the cultivation of sugar.
One legacy of the centuries of conflict between the French and English is Brimstone Fortress. Construction of this UNESCO World Heritage site—the only man-made one in the Eastern Caribbean—began in 1690 under British rule. Sprawling over 38 acres, the site is only partially excavated with unknown historical treasures still waiting to be uncovered. It is one of the Caribbean’s most majestic and well-preserved forts and a visit will make it clear why it has long been nicknamed “the Gibraltar of the West Indies.”