EXPLORE BRIDGETOWN

Bridgetown

The Bar­ba­dos Par­lia­ment Buildings

National Heroes Square

St. Mary’s Church

The Bar­ba­dos Cenotaph

The Inde­pen­dence Arch

The Lord Nel­son Statue

The Cham­ber­lain Bridge

The Bar­ba­dos Dol­phin Fountain

Inde­pen­dence Square

The Bridgetown Synagogue

Cheap­side Market



Bridgetown

resizeIMG 0676The city of Bridgetown is Bar­ba­dos’ largest city, and the com­mer­cial cen­tre of the island. Cur­rently with an esti­mated pop­u­la­tion of 90,000, this St. Michael town car­ries within it strong Eng­lish and Bar­ba­dian influ­ences. Estab­lished by the Eng­lish set­tlers in 1628, it is the sec­ond town to be set­tled in Bar­ba­dos after Hole­town, or as it was called in the 17th cen­tury, James Town.

When these set­tlers arrived to what is now called Bridgetown, they dis­cov­ered a basic bridge built over the Careenage swamp, located in the heart of Bridgetown. They believed this bridge to be built by the Arawaks, an indige­nous Indian peo­ple who once resided in Bar­ba­dos, and as such they named this area ‘Indian Bridge’. This name was later changed to St. Michael town in 1654. Bridgetown was coined, and the town was renamed such. A man­ual swing-​bridge, The Cham­ber­lain Bridge, was built over the Careenage in 1872 by the British, and was replaced by a mod­ern lift bridge in 2006. The lay­out of Bridgetown also betrays its Eng­lish ori­gins, as it was orig­i­nally designed to resem­ble a 17th cen­tury Eng­lish town.

Today, Bridgetown is a hive of activ­ity, and there are many sights for a vis­i­tor to see and enjoy. As the com­mer­cial cen­tre of Bar­ba­dos, there is no lack of shop­ping, from high-​end bou­tiques to your basic street ven­dor. Vis­i­tors can enjoy duty-​free shop­ping, and also enjoy many of the his­toric and cul­tural sig­nif­i­cant sites and mon­u­ments that abound in Bridgetown.



National Heroes Square

Once called Trafal­gar Square, this his­toric site is posi­tioned in the heart of Bridgetown along Upper Broad Street and is on the north­ern shore of the Careenage River.

It was renamed National Heroes Square in 1999, in hon­our and cel­e­bra­tion of Bar­ba­dos’ most out­stand­ing heroes. These esteemed indi­vid­u­als are widely recog­nised for their cru­cial and crit­i­cal roles played in the con­tin­u­ing devel­op­ment of Barbados.

This square is not with­out its con­tro­versy. One of the his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant mon­u­ments placed within this square is the The Lord Nel­son Statue. This statue actu­ally pre­dates the more famous Nelson’s Col­umn, which is located in Lon­don, England’s Trafal­gar Square, by just under 30 years. It is felt by some Bar­ba­di­ans how­ever, that this statue should be removed from this square as Lord Nel­son is not recog­nised as a National Hero. How­ever, to date this statue still holds a posi­tion within this his­toric centre.

Other cul­tur­ally sig­nif­i­cant mon­u­ments located within National Heroes Square are The Bar­ba­dos Ceno­taph, which com­mem­o­rates Bar­ba­di­ans who died in World War I and II, and The Bar­ba­dos Dol­phin Foun­tain, a com­mem­o­ra­tion of the intro­duc­tion of piped water in Bridgetown.



The Bar­ba­dos Cenotaph

resizeIMG 0597Located in National Heroes Square, Upper Broad Street, Bridgetown, this four-​sided war memo­r­ial was orig­i­nally built in 1921 to com­mem­o­rate the Bar­ba­di­ans who died in World War I (19141918), but has since also been inscribed with the names of Bar­ba­di­ans who died in World War II (19351945). Con­structed with grey gran­ite and coral stone, this struc­ture is in the shape of an obelisk but, how­ever, dif­fers from other obelisks located around the world in that it does not have a pyramid-​shaped top. In addi­tion to these names, the ceno­taph also fea­tures Bar­ba­dos’ Coat-​of-​Arms. In trib­ute of the Bar­ba­di­ans who died in the war and the war vet­er­ans, a ser­vice is held at the Bar­ba­dos Ceno­taph every Remem­brance Day. Also known as Poppy Day, Remem­brance Day is held every Novem­ber 11th in mem­ory of the end of World War I. Although not a pub­lic hol­i­day in Bar­ba­dos, a cer­e­mo­nial parade is done on Remem­brance Sun­day and ends at this site. Wreaths are laid at its base by Gov­er­nor Gen­eral, the Prime Min­is­ter of Bar­ba­dos, the Oppo­si­tion Leader, diplo­mats and other dig­ni­taries at the end of the Two Minute Silence.



The Lord Nel­son Statue

resizeIMG 0571

Another one of Britain’s per­vad­ing influ­ences can be seen in the Lord Nel­son Statue in National Heroes Square, Bridgetown. This bronze like­ness was erected in March 22, 1813, mak­ing this statue older than the Nel­son Col­umn in Trafal­gar Square in Lon­don by just under 30 years. Inter­est­ingly, National Heroes Square was for­merly called Trafal­gar Square, before it was renamed in 1999.

This Lord Nel­son Statue has been at the cen­tre of con­tro­versy among Bar­ba­di­ans for quite some time now, with a gen­eral feel­ing towards its removal. Indeed, as the Square has been renamed National Heroes Square, it is felt that the Lord Nel­son Statue does not belong in this location.

How­ever, to date, the only changes that have been made in that direc­tion are the ceas­ing of the tra­di­tional wreath lay­ing on the anniver­sary of Trafal­gar and the change of direc­tion in which he faced.



The Bar­ba­dos Dol­phin Fountain

resizeIMG 0615This mon­u­ment, located in National Heroes Square Bridgetown, com­mem­o­rates the intro­duc­tion of piped water in Bridgetown in 1861. It was erected four years after this occa­sion in 1865. It fea­tures three dol­phins spew­ing water from their mouths into the base pool. In com­mem­o­ra­tion of the piped progress, The Water Works Com­pany in Bar­ba­dos agreed to sup­ply the water to the foun­tain for free.On it there is a plaque that reads “This foun­tain was erected by pub­lic sub­scrip­tion to com­mem­o­rate the bring­ing of piped water to the City of Bridgetown on 29 March 1861. Opened by act­ing Gov­er­nor — Robert Miller Mundy ESQ. on the 27th July 1865 who accepted cus­tody of this foun­tain on behalf of the Gov­ern­ment of Bar­ba­dos.” A plaque placed below the first reads: “The pump for this foun­tain was installed by the Bar­ba­dos National Trust with a grant from the Advo­cate Com­pany Lim­ited. (Estab­lished 1895)” This mon­u­ment is within very close prox­im­ity to other National Heroes Square mon­u­ments– the Bar­ba­dos Ceno­taph and the Lord Nel­son Statue.



The Bridgetown Synagogue

This Jew­ish Syn­a­gogue is said to be the first syn­a­gogue built in the West­ern Hemi­sphere, indeed it is one of the old­est. The Syn­a­gogue was built by Jews from Recife, Brazil who were flee­ing from harsh Dutch treat­ment and look­ing for some­where to set­tle. They brought with them their skills and exper­tise in the sug­ar­cane indus­try, pre­vi­ously unex­plored on the island.

Built in 1654, this Syn­a­gogue was destroyed by a hur­ri­cane in 1834, rebuilt and sub­se­quently dis­re­garded and ulti­mately sold off in 1929. After chang­ing hands quite a few times, the Jew­ish Syn­a­gogue was then seized by the Bar­ba­dos Gov­ern­ment in 1983. Through a peti­tion by the Jew­ish com­mu­nity, the Bar­ba­dos Gov­ern­ment handed over the prop­erty to the Bar­ba­dos National Trust in 1985.

The archi­tec­ture of this build­ing has some Gothic fea­tures, and the build­ing has been restored with a museum, and a spring-​fed mik­vah (rit­ual bath). This 17th cen­tury mik­vah was dis­cov­ered by an Amer­i­can archae­ol­o­gist, Michael Stoner, in 2008 who was exca­vat­ing the for­mer rabbi’s house on the premises.



The Bar­ba­dos Par­lia­ment Buildings

resizeIMG 0676Orig­i­nally called the Pub­lic Build­ings, the Par­lia­ment Build­ings date back to 1874. Its archi­tec­ture is Gothic and it was con­structed using coral lime­stone. It is the seat of the Par­lia­ment of Bar­ba­dos, and has been the meet­ing place for both cham­bers of Par­lia­ment since 16 June 1874.

The Par­lia­ment Build­ings were con­structed to serve the pur­pose of ade­quate accom­mo­da­tion for the Houses of Par­lia­ment, secu­rity of Bar­ba­dos’ Pub­lic Records, and cen­tralised prin­ci­ple pub­lic houses. One of the Par­lia­ment Build­ings’ most strik­ing fea­tures is its clock tower, cur­rently relo­cated to its West Wing. The pen­du­lum is 14 feet long and dials are made of cop­per and are 7 feet in diameter.

The Par­lia­ment of Bar­ba­dos is the 3rd old­est in the Com­mon­wealth, behind Britain and Bermuda, dat­ing back to as early as 1639. Bar­ba­dos has over 370 years of Par­lia­men­tary tra­di­tion– cer­tainly by no means an easy feat.



St. Mary’s Church

Located on the west­ern side of Lower Broad Street, Bridgetown, this Angli­can Church was built in 1825, and sub­se­quently con­se­crated on July 27, 1827 by Bishop William Hart Coleridge. It was con­structed entirely out of brick, has a large red roof and its archi­tec­ture favours a Gre­go­rian style.

St. Mary’s Church was con­structed on the grounds of St. Michael’s Parish Church. St. Michael’s Parish Church, then a wooden church, was to be relo­cated, but was ulti­mately destroyed by a hur­ri­cane in 1780. How­ever„ it would not be until another forty-​five years until St. Mary’s Church was con­structed on that site.

St. Mary’s Church is on the sec­ond old­est piece of con­se­crated land, behind the St. James Parish Church in Hole­town. There is a majes­tic silk cot­ton tree located on the premises that car­ries with it an inter­est­ing story. This tree was known as the ‘Jus­tice Tree’ and was used for pub­lic hang­ings back in the day. For­mer Gov­er­nor of Bar­ba­dos, William Tufton, was said to have been shot under Jus­tice Tree on allegedly fab­ri­cated charges by his predecessor.

Buried in the grave­yard lies Samuel Jack­son Prescod, a National Hero and the first non-​white to be elected in the national parliament.

This beau­ti­fully built church was also sturdy enough to with­stand the great 1831 hur­ri­cane. It fea­tures a jalousied south porch, a barrel-​vaulted ceil­ing and more recently this cen­tury, a clock attached to the church tower. There is also an elec­tric lamp strung over the top of the gate entrance­way of the church.



The Cham­ber­lain Bridge

resizeIMG 1427The Cham­ber­lain Bridge, built in 1872, is located in the heart of Bridgetown by the Careenage River, also known as Con­sti­tu­tion River among locals. Named after Joseph Cham­ber­lain, the British Sec­re­tary of State for the Colonies, this bridge allows entry into the inner basin from the outer basin of the Careenage. This bridge also gives rise to the name of its city, ‘Bridgetown’.

Orig­i­nally, when it was con­structed in 1872 it was a manually-​operated swing bridge, but was recon­structed in 2006 to a lift­ing bridge with the state-​of the-​art mod­ern tech­nol­ogy of an all-​composite single-​leaf bas­cule design. It is a hor­i­zon­tally swing­ing bridge, 39 feet long.

An engag­ing fact is that the orig­i­nal swing bridge actu­ally replaced an older, cruder bridge built by the Arawaks, or Taino as they are also called, who had at some point resided in Bar­ba­dos. It is said that they were forced to flee to the island to avoid con­flict with a fiercer, more war-​like Tribe, the Caribs (or Kali­na­gos). The early British set­tlers aptly named this wooden bridge ‘Indian Bridge’.

Today, Careenage River is a safe har­bour for many cata­ma­rans, fish­ing boats and other plea­sure ves­sels. With the excep­tion of hur­ri­canes or unusu­ally rough seas, most of these crafts har­bour in the outer basin. The Inde­pen­dence Arch can also be found to the south end of the Cham­ber­lain Bridge.



The Inde­pen­dence Arch

resizeIMG 0651This Bridgetown mon­u­ment can be found at the south end of the Cham­ber­lain Bridge. Erected in 1987, The Inde­pen­dence Arch com­mem­o­rates Bar­ba­dos’ 21st anniver­sary of Inde­pen­dence. Bar­ba­dos was regarded a British colony up until Novem­ber 30th, 1966 when she gained her polit­i­cal inde­pen­dence. As such, the Inde­pen­dence Arch has sev­eral sym­bols of Bar­ba­dos’ her­itage and cul­ture designed into it.

At the top of the arch you will find the Coat of Arms bear­ing the national motto ‘Pride and Indus­try’. Along the two sides you will see three national sym­bols– the bro­ken tri­dent (sym­bol­ises the break away from Britain), the dol­phin (for Bar­ba­dos’ fish­ing indus­try) and the pel­i­can (for Pel­i­can Island), and the Pride-​of-​Barbados flower.

At the base of the arch you will also find the words to Bar­ba­dos’ National Pledge. Each side of the arch also car­ries a pic­ture of the late Right Excel­lent Errol Wal­ton Bar­row, also called the Father of Our Nation. He was the first Prime Min­is­ter of Bar­ba­dos, piv­otal to Bar­ba­dos’ independence.

As part of the Inde­pen­dence cel­e­bra­tions that take part every year in Novem­ber, the Inde­pen­dence Arch is usu­ally seen out­lined in lights of Bar­ba­dos’ national colours– blue and yellow.




Inde­pen­dence Square

resizeIMG 1407Located just east of the Inde­pen­dence Arch, Inde­pen­dence Square is a water­park by the Careenage water­front in Bridgetown. It is a peace­ful place to relax, an oasis of calm amidst the hus­tle and bus­tle of the city. There are two large foun­tains, an amphithe­atre, glazed walls, sculp­tural seats, paving mosaics and a toi­let block. Its archi­tec­ture seems to mir­ror colo­nial days in a mod­ern light.

Nearby to the west of the square, there are a num­ber of ven­dors posi­tioned by Inde­pen­dence Arch who sell a wide range of Bar­ba­dian arts and craft. Around Novem­ber, Inde­pen­dence Square is lit up in Bar­ba­dos’ national colours of blue and yel­low, which are then replaced around Christ­mas time with more fes­tive colours.

Before Inde­pen­dence Square became what it is today, it had been used as a carpark. It is now land­scaped with plants and trees, sup­ple­mented with benches. A main fea­ture of this square is the 9ft Statue of The Right Excel­lent Errol Wal­ton Bar­row who was the first Prime Min­is­ter of Bar­ba­dos, National Hero and Father of Bar­ba­dos’ Independence.




Cheap­side Market

Located in Bridgetown next door to Bar­ba­dos’ main post office, The Gen­eral Post Office, the Cheap­side Mar­ket is a mar­ket­place where ven­dors offer their wares and pro­duce as early as 6:00 am.

This area was des­ig­nated by the Bar­ba­dos Gov­ern­ment to small street ven­dors, and is a great place to cop many items cap­tur­ing the spirit of Bar­ba­dos. Ground pro­vi­sions are sold in abun­dance here, in addi­tion to jew­ellery, leather­works and other forms of arts and craft. Ven­dors are friendly and are usu­ally also open to price negotiations.

The busiest day for this mar­ket is Sat­ur­day, as this is when Bridgetown is its busiest and liveli­est. This is a great place for fan­tas­tic deals and com­pet­i­tive prices.


RELATED ARTI­CLES

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Hole­town
Speight­stown
Oistins
Bridgetown And Its Gar­ri­son — World UNESCO Site
Bar­ba­dos UNESCO Her­itage Build­ings & Loca­tions
National Heroes Gallery
Bay Street Nightlife
Cur­rent Edi­tion of Caribbean Dreams Magazine

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