If you want to experience part of Barbados' rich and diverse history, the Jewish Synagogue will pique your interest. It's beautiful architecture tells a tale of the lives of Jews who settled in Barbados from Brazil. The landmark is now a protected Barbados National Trust building and is an active place of worship for Jews in Barbados. Another interesting fact about the synagogue, is that it is first in the Western Hemisphere. Built in 1654, the building was destroyed by the great hurricane of 1831. The current building, was constructed over two centuries ago and it is now maintained and managed by the island's Jewish Community.
A national landmark and an icon of centuries past, the statue of Lord Nelson was erected in Trafalgar Square (now called Heros Square) in 1813. This monument stood in Bridgetown even before London's own recognition and erection of the English war hero and has been the subject of national debate for decades. The bronze sculpture is the work of Sir Richard Westmacott,'the first castor of bronze in the Kingdom'.
History and tradition are at the heart of Barbados Parliament buildings. The beautiful colonial architecture have become a special place in Bridgetown, as the Parliament is the third oldest in the entire Commonwealth. Located just across from Trafalgar Square (Heros Square), the Public Buildings, now called the Parliament Buildings, came near the end of the 17th century. Plans to erect a parliament and public records building began in 1692 after the island's new Governor arrived to discover sessions were being held in public houses (taverns). The Public Buildings were finally erected in 1871, almost 240 years after parliament was established in Barbados.
A historical site and renowned location, the Garrison has become a place for fun and frolic. With 60 to 70 buildings located on the southern outskirts of Bridgetown, the Garrison buildings represent a step back in history. Despite the fact the buildings currently have both public and private ownership, efforts are underway to bring many back to their original appearance. The Garrison is the first garrison in the West Indies and probably North America. Barbados had some 50 forts and batteries around the island and was well fortified from the 1600s, first by the Barbados militia, then by the British Army. The Garrison functioned for 126 years, leaving in its wake a legacy of buildings, artillery and artifacts that live on today.
This is one Barbados best kept secrets, as it is one of the world's most unique collections of 17th century English iron guns and moreover is one of two collections containing a gun with Cromwell's Republican Arms. A rich history comes with the English iron work, as after Cromwell died all of his possessions were ordered destroyed and the Barbados cannon with his crest is the only one known to ever be found on land. The collection totals some 150 guns, about 12 of which look onto the Savannah.
As sugar stood as the island's economic mainstay for centuries, Port Vale was one of the few sugar factories that operated throughout times gone by and one that is used in some measure for sugar production now. Giving a picture of the equipment and machinery used in centuries past, the Portvale Sugar Factory yard contains the old boiling house where a collection of artifacts, equipment and mural-sized photos are on display from the early sugar days. The museum is a tribute to Sir Frank Hutson and it allows visitors a step back in time on the process of making sugar. Even now, during the crop season, January to May, Portvale offers tours where you can watch sugar manufacturing in action.
The west of the island is marked by a number of first for Barbados and St. James Parish Church is no different. It is the site of the island's first church. The original wooden building was replaced by a stone church in the late 1600s, which was destroyed in the 1780 hurricane. The church contains historic artifacts, including the baptismal font from 1684 and the original church bell, which pre-dates the United States Liberty Bell by more than 50 years.
St. Nicholas Abbey is touted to be the last remaining authentic Jacobean house of the 17th Century that exists anywhere in the "New World". As a UNESCO World Heritage site, it stands with a rich colonial history. The residence was built only 30 years after Barbados' settlement by the British in 1627, and therefore offers major historical value. It has become one of the major historical landmarks and places of interests on the island.
Standing as the lone sugar windmill from the colonial era in the Caribbean, this historical icon is now a National Trust property. It is also now among the World Monuments Fund list of 100 Most Endangered Sites in the World. The mill recently underwent major restoration work and is a fine example of the islandâ€™s two-century tradition of wind-powered cane grinding. This Dutch-influence mill is perhaps the only one where you can still see a fully intact wheelhouse and sails.
A pillar in Barbadian history, this Great house dates back to the 1660s and is open for viewing. This is a true plantation house that offers the ideal colonial lifestyle and living standard that was common centuries ago when sugar was king.
Representative of Barbados rich military history, this signal station was built in 1818. Even though it is one of six British Military semaphore communications stations, it does hold a significant difference. The view of the landscape beneath this 700-foot elevation property and the overall setting is well worth the visit, along with the landscaped grounds and the mini museum. Managed by the Barbados Nation Trust, Gun Hill also boasts a seven foot tall coral stone lion, which was hand-carved in 1868. Gun Hill Signal Station is a great wedding venue!
Despite the fact that the Church only has a history of just over two centuries, (previous churches were destroyed by hurricanes) its centuries old churchyard and surroundings are intriguing. Tombstones with intricate, yet somewhat bizarre inscriptions populate this graveyard. The most notable of its residents is Ferdinando Paleologus, buried there in 1670. He was a descendent of the last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine the Great. The church is a solidly built Gothic architecture structure and its magnificent interior includes a beautifully crafted spiral staircase and a pulpit carved from six different woods. The cliff's edge offers a sweeping panorama of the east.
A beautiful coved inlet where a small stream meets the sea. A popular picnic venue for locals, it has lovely shaded areas and picnic tables along both sides of the river-to-the-sea area. With the ocean in sight, this venue can be the backdrop of great memories.
Offering 17-acres of history and culture, this National Park is a beautifully landscaped and picturesque spot with a perfect eastern panorama. Intriguing ruins of the magnificent 19th century Farley Hill Great House still stand and have been the subject of national debate. This house was considered the island's most stately mansion. In 1956 it was the setting of several sequences in the movie, Island in the Sun. It is now home to many national festivals and concerts and is a place of peace ]and tranquility for the discerning visitor.
A deep-cut cove is flanked on one side by Pico Tenerife, a stunning rock pillar that juts from the sea, and on the other by a high cliffed ledge with a natural mini amphitheater surrounded by swaying palms and Casuarina trees. The area is also known as Gay's Cove.
This picturesque spot is worth exploring. The footpath goes to the nearby cliff, which provides an awesome view. At the cliff's edge, if you look across the bay you will see a lone house perched on the ledge of the other side of the cliff.
If you only visit one spot in Barbados, visit Bathsheba. The East Coast offers stunning panoramas of the tumultuous Atlantic, a top surfing spot, exciting elevated views and enigmatic jagged hills. It appeals to the avid surfer and the curious onlooker. This is one of the best places to experience Barbados East Coast and to revisit old Barbados.
A lovely little back-in-time village where the island's largest reserve of clay deposit lies and where potters lived and worked, throwing pots as their forefathers did some 300 years ago. Today there are a few potters' shops remaining but the prime attraction is the short walk to the top of the 550 foot elevation mount, which shadows the nearby east coast.