Charlestown

Overview

Introduction

This ramshackle town is a pleasant place to spend a few hours limin'— the fine art of sitting around with folks doing nothing in particular. Most of the sights are a few blocks from the harbor, which has been spruced up to include covered benches, snack bars and craft shops. You can easily tour the town on foot. Some downtown buildings, constructed with dark volcanic rock, date from the 1600s. Restoration efforts are under way throughout, further clogging the town's already narrow streets. The only time this town seems busy in any way is when the ferry from St. Kitts pulls in to port.

The remains of a Jewish synagogue, dating from 1679 (it's thought to be one of the oldest in the region), have been excavated, but there isn't much to see. The Jewish Cemetery, however, is worth a stop.

Memorial Square, in the center of Main Street, honors those who served in World War I. The coral-stone building facing the square—the one with the boxy clock tower—is the courthouse. Nearby is the marketplace, which is full of produce sellers everyday but Sunday. Other sights include the ornate Charlestown Methodist Church on Chapel Street and St. Thomas' Church. The churchyard has some of the oldest tombstones on the island. After you've seen Charlestown, hire a taxi driver to show you around the island or rent a car. Be prepared for a wild ride: The main road, which circles the base of Mount Nevis, is narrow and winding.

The small fishing village of Newcastle, on the northern side of the island, is home to the Vance W. Amory International Airport, and you can watch Nevis cooking pots being made from red clay at Newcastle Pottery. (You can buy some of the pots, too.) The ruins at Eden Brown Estate, halfway up the east coast, give only a partial picture of a house built in the early 1800s by a wealthy planter as a wedding gift for his daughter. On your way back to Charlestown, stop at the ruins of Fort Ashby, a major stronghold for the British in the 1700s. It protected the original Jamestown Settlement.

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