Historic St. Vincent
St. Vincent has a long, rather tumultuous history, during which English and French colonists fought tooth and nail with local Carib Indians—and then with one another. Today, everyone gets along just fine, but visiting the island’s historical sites helps put things in perspective.
Near the wharf along upper Bay Street, a distinctive, street-level arcade connects several historic stone buildings, which once functioned as arrowroot warehouses. For centuries, these rows of Georgian stone arches and second-floor overhangs have sheltered Kingstown’s workers, walkers, and vendors from the hot sun and occasional shower—hence Kingstown’s nickname, the “City of Arches.”
Between 1812 and 1815, the British ordered the construction of 300-foot-long Jasper Rock Tunnel (more commonly known as Black Point Tunnel) to provide better access from the cane field to the sugar factory to the ships for export. Slaves were responsible for the actual building, manually cutting through the mountain with shovels, picks, and sledgehammers. Now part of the Black Point Historic and Recreation Park, the tunnel also served as the site for several scenes in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
A Carib chief and national hero, Joseph Chatoyer led revolts against British colonists in 1772 and again in 1795. During the latter revolt, his soldiers and their French allies were planning to attack Kingstown from Dorsetshire Hill, but British soldiers marched up from the city and attacked first, killing Chatoyer. Today, he’s memorialized in a monument on that very hill, overlooking the city he fought so hard to regain.
One look at this hilltop fort, perched over the Port of Kingstown, and you know the British built it to fight the locals rather than to meet any threats coming by sea—all the cannons face the island’s rugged interior, where the Caribs lived. Inside the fort, you’ll find a series of murals depicting the bloody Carib wars. Kids will love exploring the old buildings, and everyone will enjoy the views.
North of Buccament Bay, a turnoff leads to Layou Petroglyph Park, where you’ll find Amerindian writings (or petroglyphs) scrawled on the side of a large boulder. The meaning of the carvings is unknown, but historians estimate that they date as far back as 300 to 600 B.C.E. Lush vegetation grows in the surrounding ridges, making for a fun area to explore. There’s also a small pool where you can take a dip to cool down.
The mother church of the Diocese of the Windward Islands, St. George’s Cathedral (also known as Kingstown Anglican Church) was built in 1820 on the site of an earlier church that was destroyed by a hurricane in the late 1700s. It’s the biggest church on the island and features a number of unique adornments, from a gilded wood chandelier to a brass lectern and a circular mahogany pulpit. It’s also home to a stained-glass window gifted by Queen Victoria. As the story goes, the queen initially commissioned the window for St. Paul’s Cathedral in honor of her first grandson but was horrified by the angel’s red robe and immediately sent the window abroad to St. Vincent.
Lodge Village - Green Hill Road
Around since 1765, the St. Vincent Botanical Gardens claims to be the oldest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. Tour the gardens with an informative guide, who will point out all the native and exotic plants growing here, including a breadfruit tree descended from the one Captain Bligh brought to St. Vincent in 1793. In the aviary, you’ll also be able to catch a glimpse of the colorful St. Vincent parrot—the island’s national bird.