Thursday, June 2, 2016

When Worlds Collide :: Queen Victoria

In the center of Nassau you'll find the old and the new worlds coming together. Rawson Square features a new beginning with a bronze of Sir Milo Butler who was the first governor-general for an independent Bahamas. And on the other side of the street is Parliament Square with Queen Victoria representing a colonial past.

The commercial port of Nassau was established around 1670. It was overrun for more than a century by lawless, seafaring men, and it was twice destroyed by both Spanish the French. The port also saw its share of pirates who would loot the heavily laden cargo ships. So by the early 1790s, the British decided they'd had enough and built several fortresses to restore order and protect the island from invaders. Fincastle was built on top of Bennet Hill and has two 24-pound cannons, two 32-pound, two 12-pound and a Howitzer. The fort never fired once even with all this firepower. 

Toward the end of colonial rule (late 1700s) local African slaves carved a gorge, more than 100 feet deep into a solid limestone hillside with pickaxes. At the far end of this passage they included a staircase of 66 steps to provide a shorter route to Fort Fincastlethe highest point on the island. The task took 600 slaves 16 years to complete. The Queen's Staircase were named decades later (1837) when Queen Victoria signed a declaration to abolish slavery on her ascension to the throne. Later, the staircase was modified to 64 steps, each representing a year of Queen Victoria's reign. 

It is a short 10 minute walk up from the port to the staircase where a wall of vines and overhanging brush offer a cool oasis on a hot day. Climb the stairs and you arrive at Fort Fincastle where you will get a stunning 360 view around the island and a birds' eye perspective of the enormous cruise ships coming and going in the port. You'll see the hoards of tourists scuttling off the ships to the straw market or one of the touristy bars, but very few venture beyond the couple of streets that surround the port. A shame because there is so much more to see on the island.

6 comments:

Duni said...

The fort looks pretty massive! The gorgeous view from up there is definitely worth climbing the stairs :)

JoJo said...

Sounds like a really cool place!!!! You should take a metal detector and hit the beaches next time. You might find a doubloon!

Miss Val's Creations said...

So much history! I love that the steps were later modified to honor the Queen's abolitionist effort.

Liz E said...

I always enjoy your travel posts. So many places to see. So much to learn!

Mama Zen said...

What a neat place!

Magic Love Crow said...

Wow, beautiful! I love the steps! Thank you for all this history!

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