Bridgetown

About Bridgetown, Barbados

Bridgetown is the capital and largest city of the nation of Barbados. Formerly, the Town of Saint Michael, the Greater Bridgetown area is located within the parish of Saint Michael.

This beautiful city is a haven for travellers seeking out a more cultural and historical experience, that is if they are not sunbathing on the beautiful white beaches, playing a round of golf on one of the many spectacular golf courses or snorkelling in the crystal clear waters.
Bridgetown truly offers an impressive collection of historic buildings and landmarks to explore. Broad Street, the city's main artery, is famous for the many restaurants promising culinary delights, wonderful shopping finds and great evenings spent in its bars or nightclubs. The capital has incredible energy and is gearing up for the Cricket World Cup it will be hosting in 2007.

Beaches
The south and west coast enjoy the warmer and gentler waters of the Caribbean Sea. Tall palms or mahogany trees sometimes line these gleaming, white sanded beaches and coves. The south beaches are particularly favoured by a younger crowd, whereas the west beaches are less crowded.

Carlisle Bay, beautifully shaped like a crescent, is a favourite and gets quite busy during the weekend. There are snack counters and facilities.

Crane Beach is absolutely picturesque with its pink sand and sheltering high cliffs. Bodysurfing conditions are ideal. There is a lifeguard, snack counters and facilities.

Sandy Beach is quite shallow and a calm surf. Families with small kids favour this beach. There are snack counters and facilities.

Silver Sands Beach is constantly breezy, therefore an ideal spot for windsurfing.

Brighton Beach has practically still waters. Locals frequent this beach.

Mullins Beach has everything a beach should have, even snorkelling spots. There are snack counters and facilities.

Paynes Bay is lined with hotels it can get crowded at times but it is ideal for waters sports, especially snorkelling. There are snack counters and facilities.

The east present a much more spectacular and rugged coastline. The strong Atlantic constantly crashes onto the long stretches sand which are wildly framed by rocky cliffs. Two prime examples are Barclays Park and the Bathsheba/Cattlewash area with its gigantic boulders. Due to the strong and dangerous surf it is highly advised not to swim on the east coats. Expert surfers from all over the world come to surf here.

Climate The average temperature is of 29° C during the day, which is cooled by a lovely constant breeze. Higher precipitations are common between June and October. The water temperature oscillates around 25° C.

Geography
Located on the south western side of the Barbados, Bridgetown is the islands capital. Its shores bathe in the warm waters of Carlisle Bay, which are sourced by the Caribbean Sea. It is the commercial center, a tourist resort, a cruise ship terminal and the main port of Barbados. Besides tourism, the economy of the island relies on its sugar, rum, and molasses exports.

History Bridgetown was founded on July 5th 1628, when 64 colonists arrived to settle here. By 1640 the State house is erected to house the first parliament and St Michael Parish church is completed 15 years later. In 1668, the first of several destructive fires in Bridgetown's history destroys the State House. Other great fires were started in 1766 due to a single unattended candle and in 1910 by an arsonist.

Tragedy struck again in 1780 when a hurricane destroyed and damaged several buildings. This time a big flood, following heavy rainfall, took out both of Bridgetown's bridges in 1795. Today's present parliament buildings were finished 1871. The 375th anniversary of Bridgetown was recently celebrated in 2003.

Nature Welchman Hall Gully is a natural ravine, once a limestone cave, that was cleared and planted with fruit and spice trees during the 1800s. Today over 200 species of rare exotic trees and flora from around the world can be admired. Also brimming with spectacular varieties of flora are Andromeda Botanic Gardens, Flower Forest and Orchid World.

This island has much to offer for bird lovers. The Ayshford Rare Bird Park.displays around 80 different species of birds, like ostriches and emus, and other exotic types like macaws. The Graeme Hall Bird Sanctuary is a maintained mangrove swamp that is frequented by migratory birds.

The Barbados Wildlife Reserve is filed with animals roaming freely within this natural environment. You can observe birds, hares, mongoose, tortoise, iguanas, deers and armadillos living amongst the mahogany trees. But the most famous residents are the green monkeys which roam freely in and out of the park.

View sea anemones and shells at Animal Flower Cave as you explore the cave. You can take a swim on the pools of warm water looking out the cave toward the ocean.

Unique to Here Barbadians love to have a good time, which is best done with a glass of Barbadian rum. When the island ruled the sugar cane industry, several rum distilleries were opened. Three of these still remain open: Foursquare Rum Distillery, Mount Gay Rum Tour and Malibu Beach Club & Visitors Centre. Here you can learn how rum is made and sample exotic cocktails.

For those who prefer a good beer, you can visit the local Banks Beer Brewery.

Airport :
Barbados Grantley Adams International Airport Tax : The departure tax of around BDS $25, per person, is payable at the airport when leaving the country. Distance from Airport : 30 minutes to Bridgetown, resorts are 15 to 35 mintues away on average Tourist Office : Harbour Road, Bridgetown. Telephone: 246-427-2623 / 427-2624 Tourist Season : November through May Festivals & Events January - Barbados Jazz Festival

February - Holetown Festival, commemorating the landing of the first setters in 1627.

March - Holder's Opera, open-air opera and musical theatre.

April - Congaline Street Festival

April - Oistins Fish Festival

May - Gospelfest, celebrating gospel music.

July/August - Crop Over Festival, signifying the end of the sugar cane harvest.

August - Kadooment Day, Barbados's carnival with costumed revellers dancing to the beats of Soca and Calypso.

Transportation Barbadians drive on the LEFT side. A car, moped and bicycle rental is a great way to explore the thousand or so kilometres of the island. Remember that the speed limit is 50km per hour and 30km per hour in towns. To rent a car you must purchase a temporary driver's permit (BDS $10), which is valid for one year.

Taxis charge fixed rates set by the government and operate 24hr a day. Buses run frequently along the coastal and interior routes and are inexpensive.

Activities & Sports
With so many beaches on the island, water sports abound everywhere. If your lodging does not include the necessary equipment, many beaches have rental facilities. Also, owners of private boats will offer their service for a small fee. You can go waterskiing, parasailing, surfing, windsurfing, yachting and kayaking. Barbados has several diving and snorkelling sites, such as the shore at Mount Standfast where you may spot a few green turtles.

There are several golf courses on the island, including the 18-hole Barbados Golf Club, Sandy Lane (3 courses: Sandy Lane Old Nine, the 18-hole Country Club and the 18-hole Green Monkey), the Royal Westmoreland Golf & Country Club offering an 18-hole championship golf course, and Club Rockley and Almond Beach Village both featuring 9-hole courses.

Popular land sports include hiking and walking on the many nature and park trails, horseback riding and mountain biking. Many hotels offer wonderful tennis courts, some are lit for evening play.

Archaeology Although not very old, Farley Hill once a beautiful mansion, has now fallen to ruins and makes for an interesting visit within the compound of the Farley Hill National Park. The first owner, Joseph Lyder Briggs, began construction 1818 and additional rooms were continuously added over the next 50 years. This great plantation house hosted lavish parties and entertained several members of the British Royal family. A century later the house was unoccupied and started falling to ruins, also falling victim to several hurricanes and fires.

Today the ruins are a site of historic interest and Farley Hill is transformed into a stage for musical and theatrical events. Visit the beautiful gardens and the towering royal palms, mahogany, whitewood, and casuarina trees lining the avenue. The hill also offers breathtaking panoramic views.

Attractions & Sights There are so many attractions and museums on the island it is simply impossible to experience all of them in a week. Here is a highlight of the most popular ones:

The island has established a list of the Seven Wonders of Barbados, ranging from historical, architectural and natural interest.

1. Baobab Trees Said to have come from Africa in 1738, it takes 15 adults joining with outstretched arms to cover its circumference. 2. Cannon Galore Barbados has the world's rarest collection of 17th-century English iron cannons, including pieces dating from 1620. 3. Grapefruit Tree It is believed that the grapefruit originated on Barbados, the result of a natural cross-pollination between two varieties in Welchman Hall Gully. 4. Harrison's Cave The cave is a unique natural phenomenon with an amazing gallery of stalactites and stalagmites, streams, lakes and waterfalls, leading speleologists consider it to be among the finest showcases in the world.. 5. Jacobean Mansions St. Nicholas Abbey in St. Peter, and Drax Hall in St. George. 6. Jewish Synagogue Originally built in 1627, the Jewish Synagogue was erected by 300 Jewish immigrants from Brazil. This temple is believed to be the oldest in the Western Hemisphere. 7. Morgan Lewis Windmill This is the only intact and still-operating sugar mill. The rubble walls are made from boulders held together by a mixture of egg white and coral dust.

The Barbados Museum of Historical Society was the former British Military Prison. On exhibit is an extensive collection of artefacts and documents testifying to Barbados' cultural, historical and environmental heritage. Gun Hill Signal Station, originally built in 1818 is the best preserved of the signal stations, was a former British Military installation. It offers a panoramic view of the southern half of the island. Tyrol Cot Heritage Village is a historic mansion dating back to 1854 and was the home of the first Premier of Barbados. Set in three acres of landscaped gardens, with Barbadian fine craft and food for sale. The Folkestone Underwater Park & Marine Reserve is home to many fascinating marine specimens, artefacts and the largest mini-reef aquarium in Barbados. The Harry Bayley Observatory is home of the Barbados Astronomical Society. Come and gaze at the stars every Friday evenings.

Meadows of golden sugar cane and historic plantation houses are a short distance away from Bridgetown. The Sunbury Plantation House dates back to the 1660s. This estate house features a wonderful architectural example of a plantation mansion and houses a museum with relics of that ear such as mahogany antiques and original oil paintings. Other plantation houses include the Francia Plantation and the Sir Frank Hutson Sugar Museum

The Chattel Houses, were the traditional plantation workers houses. They were modest wooden buildings set on blocks so that they could be easily moved. The steep gable roofs were adapted for heavy rains and winds. The fretwork and distinctive jalousie windows were placed there to provide shade and a filter against the rain.

Nightlife Most resorts have themed nights where you can party to the sounds of steel bands. The cabaret dinner shows are also very popular in Barbados, like the The Bajan Roots & Rhythms Show or the Plantation Tropical Spectacular.

Nightclubs abound, each with its own specialty. Here are a few suggestions: for jazz, soca and calypso music try the Coach House, Waterfront Cafe or After Dark; for reggae, ringbang and soca music you should enjoy Harbour Lights; for a pub atmosphere go to Ship Inn or The Boatyard; fans of karaoke should head to Carib Beach Bar.

After the clubs, if you still have the strength to party try Baxters Road or The street that never sleeps, where the street is transformed nightly by the rhythms of calypso and street performers, as street vendors bring out coal pots and roast fish and chicken, sell spirited refreshments.

Side Trips Barbados has several towns and villages scattered throughout the island that make for interesting excursions:

Speightstown, located in the north of the island, was the first commercial centre of Barbados. It was neglected for many years but has since been revived and restored to its former glory. The area offers a unique look into the architectural heritage of Barbados.

Holetown, situated right in the heart of the tourist district on the west coast of the island, is a place where history and modern development meet. This is the location of the first settlement of Barbados and the Holetown Monument commemorates the first English landing in Barbados in 1625.

Oistins is on the south coast of the island and has a rich political history. The Oistins Fish Fry has become the second most popular tourist attraction on the island!

St. Lawrence Gap is where the party animals will feel right at home! There are numerous night clubs and bars, along with excellent beachfront restaurants.

Fitts Village is a small village on the west coast, which offers good swimming and snorkelling conditions.

Bathsheba is on the rugged east coast, Bathsheba is a quiet hideaway that is popular with visitors and locals alike. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery and take a dip in one of the naturally carved out pools!

Accommodations
With over 6,800 guestrooms available, you are sure to find an accommodation to suit your taste and budget. The most popular remain the all-inclusive and luxury resorts but you can choose also from small hotels, private villas, and quaint bed and breakfasts.

Barbados offers wonderful facilities for your meetings and conventions. A favourite is the Sherbourne Conference Center has all the state-of-the-art equipment and halls to accommodate your needs.

Eating Out Casual and festive settings abound in informal beach eateries, pubs and bistros. Sophisticated dining establishments, requiring a reservation and more formal attire, offer delectable, award-winning fare. Bridgetown's restaurants are mostly found on Broad Street but you can find great places also on Baxter's Road and High Street.

Here are a few recommendations: The Coach House, The Atlantis,Captain’s Carvery, The Fish Pot, Mango's by the Sea, Cliffside Restaurant and Bar, Bonito Beach Bar and Restaurant, The Balcony Restaurant, Lantern’s by the Sea and Mullin’s Beach Bar, to name but a few.

Shopping Bridgetown's Broad Street and Holetown's Chattel Shopping Village offer the best shopping opportunities. Duty free shops promise great saving on certain luxury items (passport and airline ticket required), whereas open-air markets and souvenir shanties are great places to purchase crafts and local products. Island craft fairs are also held several times a year.

Crafts include pottery, baskets, leather work, batiks, jewellery, shell craft, beachwear and mahogany pieces. Edible souvenirs are great to bring home, like rum, spicy Bajan hot sauce, condiments and chutney, Barbadian made sugar and rum cake.

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