BRIDGETOWN The capital of Barbados, Bridgetown is the island’s epicenter and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city center was originally where the old Indian bridge was in town, then became known as “the bridge,” then “bridge town.”
Bridgetown was the first stop in the Caribbean for the African slave trade. Until 1807, all slaves entered the Americas here, by the trees on the bay. They were “washed, cleaned, and shined” as cargo for sale.
|lovely lady stands before the spot where all slaves once entered the Americas, in Bridgetown, Barbados|
Today the town is clean and safe and features an eclectic mix of low-end vendors hawking everything from homegrown vegetables and fruit to underwear and cleaning products. It maintains a medieval serpentine layout depicted on High Street and Swan Street, which is historically known as “Jew Street.”
|colorful building in Bridgetown, Barbados|
Parliament Buildings Trafalgar St. Barbados is the oldest continuing parliamentary democracy outside of England, and is the third-oldest parliament in the world after Britain and Iceland. Bordered by National Heroes Square, the parliament buildings (also known as the "public buildings") are two spectacular neo-Gothic-style structures. Both buildings were constructed of coral limestone between 1870 and 1874 and are now designated as UNESCO sites.
|Parliament Building in Bridgetown, Barbados|
The building that houses the Senate and House of Assembly features beautiful stained-glass windows depicting British monarchs.
The other building bears the clock tower and houses the National Heroes Gallery and Museum of Parliament. Museum entry includes a tour of the parliament buildings (M & W-Sat 10am-4pm; closed Tu & Sun.)
More than 15 additional important landmarks are in the immediate area, including The James Blackwood Screw Dock, the only one of its kind remaining in the world.
Sometimes, if you're lucky, you'll witness a special parade through the town. Look for the colorful women dressed as Mudda Sallies and the agile men dancing as Shaggy Bears.
|Mudda Sallies dance in parade in Bridgetown, Barbados|
|Shaggy Bear dances in parade in Bridgetown, Barbados|
Bethel Methodist Church Bay St./Probyn St. Built in 1844, this historic church has a small graveyard in the back.
|exterior of Bethel Methodist Church in Bridgetown, Barbados|
|small graveyard in back of Bethel Methodist Church in Bridgetown, Barbados|
Nidhe Israel Synagogue and Museum 246-436-6869. Museum: M-F 9am-4pm. US$12.50/BDS$25. Built in 1654 by Dutch Jewish settlers, this Sephardic Jewish temple is the earliest (or oldest, depending on your point of view) Jewish synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. These early Jewish settlers introduced windmills to the island in the 17th- and 18th-centuries, when more than 500 dotted the island. Jewish visitors can research family histories. A full mikvah (a ritual bath house) has been restored, and a large cemetery is adjacent. This major archaeological site remains under excavation.
|exterior of Nidhe Israel Synagogue and Museum in Bridgetown, Barbados|
|interior of Nidhe Israel Synagogue and Museum in Bridgetown, Barbados|
|mikvah bath at Nidhe Israel Synagogue and Museum in Bridgetown, Barbados|
The Characters of Town--Historic Walking Tours (246) 826-4002. Colorfully costumed character-guides provide historic stories as they lead visitors through the town.
|The Characters of Town walking tour in Bridgetown, Barbados|
More things to do in Barbados.
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images and videos ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers