The World Heritage Committee has inscribed Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison on the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
The World Heritage Center says it is an “an outstanding example of British colonial architecture consisting of a well-preserved old town built in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, which testifies to the spread of Great Britain’s Atlantic colonial empire. The property also includes a nearby military garrison which consists of numerous historic buildings. With its serpentine urban lay-out, the property testifies to a different approach to colonial town-planning compared to the Spanish and Dutch colonial cities of the region which were built along a grid plan” whc.unesco.org/en/news/770/
Bridgetown, named after the bridge that was constructed in the area by the original Amerindian settlers, was referred to by the English settlers of the 17th century as The Indian Bridge and The Indian Bridgetown. Although it was not the original capital, Bridgetown became the center of trade and commerce. Its harbour (or Careenage) was often filled with trading vessels and was also often the first port of call for ships making the trans-Atlantic crossing from Africa.
In the early history of colonial settlement of the Caribbean, England, France, Spain and Holland were at war over the prosperous islands, which were strategic for trade routes to the new world of silver and gold. The islands also became important for sugar and rum. Protecting the colonies was vital and the British maintained possession of the island throughout its history.
They built fortifications along the western coast of the Island and established a main garrison close to Bridgetown. It was the largest Garrison in the British Colonies in the 18th and 19th centuries. It began with the construction of St. Ann's Fort in 1705 and grew to include soldiers' barracks, a parade ground and commissariat.
Barbados has a rich African and British historic heritage, with relics of the Carib and Amerindian past. Much is preserved in museums in the Savannah area, in the old buildings that date back 300 years, the two Jacobean homes, Georgian and Pavilion architecture and stately plantations.
It has the world's rarest collection of 17th century English iron cannons.
"The island is littered with old cannons", said Major Michael Hartland, who is the driving force behind this collection's acquisition. "We have found them in gardens, cellars, on beaches, embedded in the sides of buildings and buried under fortifications", he says, sitting in his office in the historic Main Guard House in the elegant Georgian building in Garrison Savannah (Circa 1802). The building is one of the many reasons for the UNESCO designations. You will notice it as the red brick building with a graceful clock tower.
The Garrison Savannah continues to be a hive of social and commercial activity where historic buildings blend with modern amenities. There are many hotels, villas, restaurants, boutique shops, sports, horse racing, diving and beaches in the area, making it a popular travel destination.
It is the first heritage site of Barbados to enter the World Heritage List. Other areas are also possible entries as the island is a treasure trove of history and heritage; from sugar and rum to stately homes and cannons.
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For more information visit [http://barbados.org/historic-bridgetown-garrison-unesco-barbados.htm