Jamaica offers history-inspired excursions
Lush in architectural relics and captivating legends of more than half a millennium of exploration and human development, the island's destination offers fascinating landmarks for a memorable and educational holiday
Visitors looking to immerse themselves in a destination where history comes alive do not need to look beyond Jamaica. Lush in architectural relics and captivating legends of more than half a millennium of exploration and human development, the island's destination offers fascinating landmarks for a memorable and educational holiday.
In Kingston is Devon House, one of the best known historical mansions in Jamaica. It is a must for anyone who wants to experience the history of the island, through the perspective of an aristocrat. Built in 1881 by Jamaica's first black millionaire, George Stiebel, the majestic mansion exhibits 19th-century architecture, preserved for more than a century. With handmade mahogany furniture, European antiques, southern-style terraces and a large ballroom, Devon House transports visitors to an era of Baroque luxury. The house also includes a library, a games room, large Wedgwood roofs and exquisitely carved skylights above the doors, which earned the site the prestigious honor of National Monument. Guests can take a tour, enjoy local cuisine, and cool off with some of the famous Devon House I Scream ice cream, considered among the best in the world.
Shaare Shalom Synagogue in Kingston
Tourists of all religions can experience the Shaare Shalom Synagogue, one of the few Jewish temples on the island, and one of the four "sand floor synagogues" left in the world. Built in the 17th century by descendants of Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition, the synagogue, located in Kingston, is a museum of Jewish history in Jamaica and can accommodate up to 600 people. In general, services are a mix between tourists and the approximately 300 Jewish Jamaicans. The floor of the synagogue is still covered in sand, the mechanism used by Sephardic Jews to muffle the sound of prayers during the Inquisition. With a large collection of historical Judaica, the synagogue is considered one of the best in the Caribbean.
Port Royal, populated by the Taíno Indians before it was founded in 1518 during Spanish rule, this town was once the largest Caribbean city and the center of all commercial and cargo exchange in the region. Today, it is a fishing village on the outskirts of Kingston and a great destination for travelers looking to take a look at Jamaica's past as a colonial naval exploration center. Port Royal attracted pirates from around the world, earning the nickname of the "most evil city on earth." Not much of the old city has been preserved to see on land, since a 1692 earthquake sank several buildings that have been preserved underwater, which makes it one of the most vibrant marine ecosystems in the Caribbean. An archaeologist and marine biologist's dream come true: Port Royal's historic buildings look better underwater, where an impressive reef system has grown over submerged structures. Several boat tours and private charters are available to explore a submerged city full of marine life just below the blue surface.
Port of Falmouth
A popular way to visit Jamaica is by cruise, and the cruise port in the historic city of Falmouth is one of the most interesting in Jamaica. Founded in 1769, the city has a bustling market and relics of the flourishing era of the island's sugar industry. Today, Falmouth is the best example of preserved Georgian architecture in Jamaica. Thanks to a restoration project completed in 2011, cruise passengers can experience the taste of colonial Jamaica during their brief land visit. Of particular interest is the Jewish cemetery, one of the few places where you can see gravestones with the star of David, the skull and cross bones, a reminder of the era of Jewish pirates. A popular way to experience Falmouth is on a walking tour, which can be booked through several tour operators.
Rose Hall Great House
Rose Hall Great House, in Montego Bay, is one of the most famous "haunted" places in Jamaica. The Georgian-style mansion is the centerpiece of the property and was built in 1742. The supernatural story associated with the Mansion is that of the "White Witch" Annie Palmer, who learned the voodoo rites in Haiti before moving to Jamaica. Annie allegedly murdered her three husbands, as well as many of her slaves, before she was killed by one of them. Now, this beautiful 7,000-acre property overlooks the sea and still captures the original aesthetics of 18th-century colonial architecture, thanks to a restoration project carried out in the 1970s, funded by American businessman John Rollins Enchanted night tours are offered in Rose Hall, where many visitors can still feel the presence of the White Witch. Golfers can also live the legend by playing on the White Witch golf course, with panoramic views of the Caribbean.