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Barbados's UNESCO-listed garrison unveils historic tunnels

The Garrison Historic Area in Barbados will open a system of secret underground passages to the public next month, adding to its already impressive tourism offering that includes 18th-century military fortifications and George Washington House.

Barbados's UNESCO-listed garrison unveils historic tunnels

Secret subterranean tunnels carved into Barbados' bedrock 200 years ago will be open to the public for the first time this October. The Garrison Historic Area, which includes George Washington House and an armoury, will unveil the new tourist attraction after recently rediscovering the intriguing system of passages running from beneath the garrison down to Carlisle Bay.

It is believed that British colonial military forces built more than 10,000ft of tunnels in 1816. The narrow arched passages are 12ft high and are believed to have been constructed to strengthen the defence network in case of attack or to act as an escape route for troops. At least one passage leads down to Carlisle Bay where there have been key ports since the 17th century, emerging at the shoreline between the Radisson Aquatica and Hilton hotels.

The final construction of two entrances and the required health and safety checks are currently underway so that a section of the tunnels can be opened to the public next month. Inside, visitors can see fossilized coral and shells in the walls of the underground passages.

The first visitor to be allowed a sneak preview of the tunnels, Sasha Wood, commented:

"People are naturally curious about secret passages and these tunnels add another dimension to the garrison area, making it even more appealing to visitors."

The Barbados Garrison Historic Area is situated in Bush Hill, St Michael Parish, on the west coast of the island. It was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List two years ago for its 'numerous historic buildings'. These include the island's military fortifications, an armoury filled with the world's rarest collection of 17th century cannons, and the house where the original US President, George Washington, resided during a formative stay on the island in 1751. It was the only place Washington ever visited outside the USA.

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