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Charlestown City Tour and Shopping Trip

Duration: Half Day

Charlestown City tour and shopping trip

If you are staying on the beautiful island of Nevis during your holiday in the Eastern Caribbean, making time to explore its charming capital city is a must. Founded in 1660, Charlestown is steeped in history and there are many ways to delve deeper into its colourful past. This memorable city tour will give you a fascinating insight into the rich colonial heritage of the island, and there is plenty of free time for shopping afterwards.

Your tour of Charlestown begins with a visit to the Museum of Nevis History, the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the United States Treasury, in 1757. Located in beautiful surroundings, overlooking Charlestown Harbour and the neighbouring island of St Kitts, this two-storey, Georgian-style building is a recreation of an earlier building dating back to the late 1600s, which was allegedly destroyed by an earthquake in 1840. It now houses the Museum of Nevis History on the ground floor, and the Nevis Island Administration Assembly Room on the upper floor. Inside you can learn about the history, culture and geology of Nevis and the life of Alexander Hamilton, interpreted through exhibitions, old manuscripts, photos, maps and church records. The gift shop is also a useful source of information.

From here we stroll through the town, past the quaint St. Paul's Anglican Church and Nevis Art Gallery, which is located in a small wooden West Indian house. You will see many examples of 18th century architecture on the way, much of which has been built from volcanic stone blocks, and houses with gingerbread trimmings and wooden balconies. Charlestown is one of the best remaining examples of the colonial era in the Caribbean, and many of its buildings have been well preserved.

Moving onwards, we visit Memorial Square, the larger and grander of the two squares in the town, which commemorates the Nevisian soldiers who died during World Wars I and II. The Court House, St. Kitts Nevis National Bank and numerous restaurants are also located here so there is a hive of activity both day and night. Just down the street from the square you can see the remains of a Jewish Cemetery and the oldest synagogue in the Caribbean. This was established by the Sephardic Jews who arrived here from Brazil to introduce sugar cultivation and production techniques.

If you still have some energy left after all that sightseeing, your next stop is the shops. One of the best places for shopping in Charlestown is in the recently restored old stone Cotton Ginnery Mall on the waterfront. The complex includes arts and crafts exhibits, a restaurant and several small shops which are worth browsing for gifts and souvenirs. The colourful City Market near the ferry dock is a popular place to shop for local produce. Here you will find all sorts of goods such as fresh tropical fruit, spices, breadfruit and homemade Caribbean sauces. One of the most popular souvenirs to take home is Nevis honey, which is produced by local beekeepers. You will also see many beautiful arts and crafts made by talented local artisans, including handcrafted red clay pottery, wooden mobiles and vibrant rugs, so you can be sure to find something that takes your fancy as you browse the stalls.

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