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Bridgetown is the capital of Barbados, the eastern most island of the Caribbean. Bridgetown is the only city on Barbados and well over half the island's residents live there. Bridgetown is the port of call for many cruise ships and is known for its duty-free shopping as much as for its more cultural and historical attractions. This article covers everything in Bridgetown itself and also the rest of St Michael Parish.
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Points of Interest in Bridgetown
- Barbados Museum, St. Ann's Garrison, St. Michael (On the western edge of the race course), ☎ + 1 (246) 427 0201, fax: + 1 (246) 436 1956, e-mail: email@example.com. Mon-Sat 9AM-5PM, Sun 2PM-6PM. Housed in the former British Military Prison, the Barbados Museum is an excellent place to go to catch up on the history of the island though you'll have the place to yourself. The exhibits start from the time the coral island first appeared; briefly cover the history of the indigenous people of Barbados; the arrival of Europeans and African slaves and the culture of the island during the colonial period; the emancipation of slaves; independence from the British; and more recent history. There is an interactive children's section that the young ones will enjoy. A small concession serves cold drinks. B$15/B$7.50 Adults/Children.
- St. Mary's Church, Bridgetown, Barbados. The current Georgian building was constructed in 1827 but there has been a church here since 1630.
- Careenage. Once a port for ships, the Careenage now houses restaurants, bars, and boutiques set in what used to be warehouses and and stores for ship supplies. Well protected from the open sea, walk along the Careenage with period buildings on one side and fishing and pleasure boats on the other, stop off for a rum at the Waterfront Cafe, and (with a bit of imagination!) you can almost step 150 years back in time!
- Parliament, Broad Street, Barbados (Near Trafalgar Square). The neo-Gothic parliament buildings are open to the public when parliament is in session.
- Broad Street
- Swan Street
- St. Mary's Church
- Cheapside Market
Barbados has experienced several waves of human habitation. The first wave were of the Saladoid-Barrancoid group, farmers, fishermen, and ceramists who arrived by canoe from Venezuela's Orinoco Valley around 350 AD. The Arawak people were the second wave, arriving from South America around 800 AD. Arawak settlements on the island include Stroud Point, Chandler Bay, Saint Luke's Gully, and Mapp's Cave. According to accounts by descendants of the aboriginal Arawak tribes on other local islands, the original name for Barbados was Ichirouganaim. In the 13th century, the Caribs arrived from South America in the third wave, displacing both the Arawak and the Salodoid-Barrancoid. For the next few centuries, they lived in isolation on the island.
The name "Barbados" comes from a Portuguese explorer named Pedro Campos in 1536, who originally called the island Los Barbados ("The Bearded Ones"), after the appearance of the island's fig trees, whose long hanging aerial roots resembled beards. Between Campos's sighting in 1536 and 1550, Spanish conquistadors seized many Caribs on Barbados and used them as slave labor on plantations. The others fled the island, moving elsewhere.
Barbados was formally settled by the British in 1627. After several failed crops of cotton, sugarcane was introduced, and the colony established itself as a profitable plantation economy. Enslaved Africans were the primary source of labour on these plantations until 1834, when they won their freedom through several years of rebellion, supported by increasing pressure from anti-slavery movements in Britain.
The economy remained heavily dependent on sugar, rum and molasses production through most of the 20th century. Though the shackles were removed, much of the repressive labour conditions of slavery remained on the island until the 1930s, when the educated black middle class fought for universal adult suffrage and took the control of the country's local governance away from the British-descended local aristocracy. The country began a process of social and political reforms in the 1940s and 1950s which led to complete independence from the United Kingdom in 1966. In the 1980s, tourism and manufacturing surpassed the sugar industry in economic importance. Barbados has developed into a stable democracy with one of the highest rates of literacy in the Western Hemisphere.
Locals refer to themselves as Bajans and things Barbadian as Bajan.
- Mount Gay Rum Distillery Tour, Spring Garden Highway, Brandons, St. Michael Parish, ☎ +1 246-425-8757, fax: +1 246-425-8770, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 9:30-15:30, Sa 10AM-4PM. Sugarcane, the primary agricultural crop of Barbados, is "rum in the first phase," and you can see how sugarcane is made into the final product at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery. Three tours types are offered: Standard tour (US $8, B$16) approximately 45 minutes long, starting every hour, kids free; Cocktail tour (US $40, B$80) approximately 2 hours long, starting at 14:00 Wednesday, includes a cocktail-making contest at the end of the tour, where the tour participants make their own cocktails with Mount Gay Rum and other ingredients, and compete for the best cocktail; Lunch tour (US $60, B$120) approximately 2 hours, by reservation only. Includes an outdoor Bajan lunch, along with the omnipresent rum punch. Note that the distillery's flash website is so overwrought and confusing as to be not worth your while—give them a call directly to set something up. US $8-60.
- The Dive Shop (Scuba Dive), Ameys Alley, Upper Bay St, St. Michael, ☎ +1 246-426-9947 (24hrs). A one tank dive is US $60 and a 2-tank dive is US $100. Resort class and dive is US $85. Multi-dive packages also exist, such as a 3-dive (1-day) package. Snorkeling is also offered for US $25 US $60-100.
- Watch Cricket. Kensington Oval is like the Lord's of the West Indies. If you're lucky enough, try to catch a one day international or a test match at the oval and you'll get a sense for the fun and excitement that goes with West Indies cricket.
- A day at the races. Barbados has an active horse racing calendar centered around the Barbados Derby Day and the Barbados Gold Cup Day. Rub shoulders with the cream of Barbados society as well as with the serious punters at the race course in Garrison.
There are also submarine and catamaran cruises. See Barbados#Do.
- Lord Nelson's Pub
- Bean and Bagel
- Waterfront Cafe, The Careenage, Bridgetown, ☎ +1(246) 427-0093. Set on the cool side of The Careenage, Waterfront Cafe is an excellent place to sample Bajan cuisine washed down with a rum punch or Banks on tap. Live music every night. B$15-B$50.
- Harbour Lights, Marine Villa, Bay Street. All day. The place to go in Barbados. B$40 gets you in and you won't have to pay for a drink all night. The bar / club extends right onto the beach and its a great place to meet other travellers and live music is on every night. You won't want to go anywhere else once you've been. B$40.
- Several vendors sell tourist kitsch (sea shells, beads) on the Careenage at the Southern end of the Constitution Bridge (next to the Independence Arch).
- There are numerous stores (including Cave Shepherd, the Macy's of Barbados) on Broad Street...especially for jewelry. Most of these specialize in duty free shopping for citizens of the UK, Canada, U.S. and others.
- Swan Street, a pedestrian only mall, has stores selling cheap clothes.
- The Number One Music Shop at the corner of Fairchild Street and Bay Street near the Careenage has a wonderful selection of Soca, Reggae, Calypso and other Caribbean music including local Bajan bands. Also a good place to pick up tickets for concerts.
See also discussion of same topic for Barbados.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Bridgetown on Wikivoyage.