Jamaica is among the most romantic islands in the Caribbean, not only for its sensuous green landscape and turquoise waters but also for its fascinating history. 450 years of magical fables, stately estates, rich traditions and natural charm await you here. For the history buff looking for the top historical sites to visit in Jamaica, here is a list of 5:
Once known as the ‘Wickedest City on Earth,’ Jamaica’s famed Port Royal is undoubtedly one of the island’s most captivating historical sites still standing and during the late 17th century was one of the largest towns in the English colonies. Due to its prime geographic location in the middle of the Caribbean, the town was once a haven for buccaneers and pirates, including the infamous Sir Henry Morgan. From Port Royal, these privateers preyed upon and plundered the heavily laden treasure fleets departing from the Spanish Main.
The town thrived as a mercantile trade centre for slaves and raw goods alike until the morning of June 7th, 1692, when what was perhaps the most infamous earthquake to hit the Caribbean let alone Jamaica struck the town. The tremors rocked the sandy peninsula on which the town was built, and two-thirds of the city either fell into rubble or sank into the sea. An estimated 2000 citizens were instantly killed in the disaster. Many more perished from injuries and disease in the following days. An eerie sort of energy remains in the town now known as one of the island’s best fishing villages. Visitors to Port Royal can tour the the buildings and even a few artifacts remaining from that great era.
Rose Hall Great House
Located approximately 9.25 miles (15 km) east of the beautiful beaches of Montego Bay, Rose Hall Great House is one of the most famous and intriguing historical structures in Jamaica. Built in 1770 by George Ash for John Palmer, Custos of St Thomas, and his wife Rosa. According to local legend the Great House is to this day haunted by the malicious spirit of Annie Palmer, “The White Witch”, the tempestuous widow of John Palmer’s grandnephew John Rose Palmer, who eventually came to own the estate.
Surrounded by a 6600-acre sugar plantation which once had more than 2000 slaves, the Georgian Great House is built of cut-stone on the first two levels and stucco on the third and uppermost level. The main entrance to the second level of the building consists of a cut-stone symmetrical grand staircase, which leads to a verandah on the seaward side of the building. The building also features sash windows, keystone, quoins and a hip roof which help to make it a lovely backdrop for for a couple whose fantasy wedding is set back in time.
Accompong Maroon Village
Located in the hills of St. Elizabeth Parish in Jamaica, consolidated by a treaty in 1739. Accompong is the mountaintop historic home of the Leeward Maroons. The Jamaican Maroons were runaway slaves who fought the British during the 18th century. When the British invaded Jamaica in 1655 the Spanish colonists fled leaving a large number of Africans who they had enslaved. Rather than be re-enslaved by the British, they escaped into the hilly, mountainous regions of the island, joining those who had previously escaped from the Spanish to live with the Taínos. The Maroons were highly influential in the fight to obtain freedom from colonial enslavement
The inhabitants of Accompong share practices and a culture similar to their African culture originating 200-300 years ago. Every January 6 (maroon leader Cudjoe’s birthday) at Accompong, descendants and friends of the Maroons come together at a festival in celebration of the treaty signed between the Maroons and the British. Visit Peace Cave where the treaty was signed. You may meet the bush doctor, who has amazing knowledge of local herbs and their uses. Enjoy the Maroon singers and dancers while dining on an authentic Jamaican lunch.
Once a majestic town and commerce centre during the sugarcane boom of the 1700s, this lively coastal town still holds the largest collection of Georgian style buildings in Jamaica (and arguably the West Indies)! Established in 1769, Falmouth is the capital of the northern parish in Trelawny. The town is 18 miles east of Montego Bay. It was named after Falmouth in Cornwall, England, the birthplace of Sir William Trelawny, the then Governor of Jamaica.
In the 1800’s heyday of King Sugar, Trelawny boasted almost one hundred plantations. Close to 25,000 slaves worked the land. Plantation owners headed to Falmouth to trade sugar, rum, dyes and logwood with arriving ships and make their selections from the abducted Africans ferried in by the vessels. Tavern-owners, artisans and merchants joined other business in extending services to the ship crews and planters. Trade was the cornerstone of the town and for some 40 years it flourished. The town has recently become home to Jamaica’s newest cruise ship pier and now boasts a host of tours and activities to entertain visitors including zip-lining, rafting and sailing on a luminous lagoon.
Good Hope Great House
( via Cockpit Country Jamaica )
Located just minutes outside of Falmouth, sitting back from the main road the Good Hope Great House was built around 1755 and is known for its high raftered ceilings and pinewood and wild orange floors. Good Hope Estate was formed through a land grant, given to Colonel Thomas Williams. The estate consists of one thousand acres, bordering the Martha Brae river.
When visiting Good Hope you will see the wonders of the Great houses, travel to the ruins where the water wheel and kiln still stands today; take a short stroll near the Martha Brae River and ride in the buggies once used by the planters, walk through the ruins of buildings that were once the jewel of the Caribbean. Take the time to wander the plantation, visit the Great House, and on your way back visit David Pinto’s pottery studio. See the work of the potter in residence and finally stop at the Trading House, the only store of its kind in the Caribbean where you can purchase great art, carvings, books and souvenirs made in Jamaica.
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