The capital of Barbados, Bridgetown celebrated its 387th birthday in
2011 - that’s 387 from its first settlement in 1728. In 2011, “Historic
Bridgetown and its Garrison” was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List based on the following criteria:
ii.“to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design; iii.to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared; iv.to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;”
It was originally known as The Town of Saint Michael and was later renamed Bridgetown after the British discovered a primitive Bridge constructed over what is now called the Careenage. Bridgetown is located in the parish of St. Michael on the central Western shore front.
The Bridgetown Port handles approximately 90% of all goods used in the commercial and retail sectors of Barbados. It is also a major cruise ship port-of-call for many ocean liners.
A small community of tourist shops called Pelican Village lies along Princess Alice Highway, the gateway to the Port. Local artists display their hand-made creations and artwork.
Princess Alice Bus Terminal at lower Broad Street provides public transportation to the West and North Coasts of the island.
BRIDGETOWN IMAGE GALLERY
Cheapside Market is a bustling area of lower Bridgetown where vendors and craftsmen sell local goods. This should not be confused with Pelican Village which is an area of tourist shops.
At the base of Broad Street is St. Mary’s Anglican Church. The church was built in 1825 and is believed to be the oldest consecrated ground in Barbados.
The Nidhe Israel Synagogue is the only Jewish synagogue in Bridgetown and is the oldest synagogue still in use in the Western Hemisphere. It is now preserved by the Barbados National Trust. To learn about the Jewish settlement, presence and contribution in Barbados, visit the Nidhe Israel Museum.
The main street, Broad Street provides access to many duty free items. Major banks like Butterfield Bank (headquartered in Bermuda), Scotia Bank and the Royal Bank of Canada have branches on Broad Street and some provide convenient Saturday hours.
Retailers include jewelers like Diamonds International, duty free tourist shops like Cave Shepherd, local pharmacies, local health food stores, supermarkets, fast food restaurants and cafes. The minor streets, Swan Street and Roebuck Street, serve as thoroughfares for local shoppers.
Parking in Bridgetown
Parking is not only convenient, it is also super cheap. Look to pay about $.75 per hour at most parking lots. If you would prefer indoor parking, there are 2 municipal parking located nearby - lower Broad Street and City Center Parking (adjacent to St. Mary’s Church). The increase in the parking rate is nominal.
A statue of Admiral Lord Nelson stands tall at National Heroes Square (formerly Trafalgar Square) on Broad Street. It was erected in 1813 and actually pre-dates the one in Trafalgar Square in London by 30+ years.
The Barbados Parliament was established in 1839 and is the third oldest political system in the British Commonwealth with Britain and Bermuda holding the first two positions. The Parliament Buildings grace the upper Broad Street area with their imposing Gothic architecture and currently house the Senate and House of Assembly.
The Chamberlain Bridge provides pedestrians with access to Independence Square and the esplanade from Broad Street while the nearby promenade provides safe passage for pedestrians along the careenage to the lower areas of Broad Street. The Careenage acts as a small marina for small yachts and fishing boats.
The Fairchild Street bus terminal at upper Broad Street provides transportation to the South, South East, and East Coasts of the island.
Barbados is home to many prestigious colleges and educational institutions. Harrison’s College is one of them. This co-ed secondary school (or high school)excels in education, with a strong emphasis on sports. It has produced many prominent notables. Since the island’s independence in 1966, five out of seven prime ministers have been schooled here.
Queens Park – I have fond memories of early Christmas morning strolls as the Royal Barbados Police Force Band performed in concert. This tradition still carries on to this day.
The park is also home to the Baobab tree, or the Tee of Life. It is one of the largest, if not the largest tree in Barbados with a circumference measuring about 62 feet.
Kensington Oval sits at the entrance of the Spring Garden Highway and is a popular venue for sporting events and concerts, like the ICC Cricket World Cup. Seating capacity is approximately 30,000.
There are several great beaches located within a 2-mile radius of Barbados’ capital (see my Things to do in Bridgetown page for details).
Spring Garden Highway grants easy access to the West Coast of the island from Bridgetown. This is where thousands come together on Kadooment Day to end the Crop Over festivities (Barbados’ carnival).
Bridgetown, Barbados is very accessible by public transportation. In addition to the many public buses you’ll find on hand, there are several privately-owned mini vans which run along the bus routes. Fare is US $1.00 one way.
Your route out of Bridgetown will skirt the coast road and connect you with the Barbados South Coast at the Garrison Savannah, or the UNESCO site.
There are several lovely beaches along this route like Brownes Beach, Pebbles Beach, and Needhams Point.
Click on the link to find out about things to do in Bridgetown.