A Visit to Brimstone Hill Fortress

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Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site of historical, cultural and architectural significance: a monument to the ingenuity of the British military engineers who designed it and to the skill, strength and endurance of the African slaves who built and maintained it. One of the best preserved historical fortifications in the Americas, it is located on the island of St. Kitts in the Federation of St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis in the Eastern Caribbean.

From Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park

The Nomadiks in St Kitts

Waiting for a few days at the dock near Sandy Point where St Kitts Marine Works boatyard is to be hauled out for „a quick bottom job“, we fill our nothing-to-do days with chilling on the small beach near by, jumping from the pier and meeting new friends. Right where we are Brimstone Hill is looming above us so close we can see the Fortress form the boat.

St Kitts Marine Works boatyard. Brimstone Hill Fortress on the background

St Kitts Marine Works boatyard. Brimstone Hill Fortress on the background

We decide to go for a visit. It is a 20 minute walk from the boatyard to the foot of the hill and another 30-40 minutes hike up the hill to the Fortress. Tourists have to pay 10 dollars per person to visit the Brimstone Hill Fortress, expensive but worth it.

View from Brimstone Hill. Boatyard and dock in the distance

View from Brimstone Hill. Boatyard and dock in the distance

 

St Kitts. Historical Background

St. Christopher is the first Caribbean island to be permanently settled by both the English and the French shared between the two nations throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Africans were brought as slaves and a massive sugar production begun which together with the slave trade yielded a great wealth well worth defending. The construction of a vast network of fortified coastal defenses on the island of St Kitts started in 1690 and continued until 1790.

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The ideal site for the fortress was chosen atop a volcanic hill 800 feet high with steep and precipitous slopes standing near the southwest shore of the island, Brimstone Hill, often referred to as „the Gibraltar of the Caribbean“. The location of the Fortress presents panoramic vistas of forested mountains to the north, cultivated fields and picturesque small villages to the west, the historical township of Sandy Point to the south, and neighbouring Dutch, English and French islands across the Caribbean Sea.

Brimstone Hill

Brimstone Hill

The fortress was built using entirely local materials found on site. The walls of the structures were made from the hard volcanic rocks of the hill itself and the mortar to cement the stones was produced from the limestone covering much of the middle and lower slopes. The Fortress is virtually a man-made out growth of the natural hill.

 

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The Fortress

We are stunned at the scale and level of preservation of the Fortress designed by British Army engineers. It is an entire complex, like a small military village built on 38 acres of land on the flat top of the hill, one of the largest Caribbean fortresses, with many buildings, officer’s quarters, soldiers’ barracks, a citadel, two places of arms, and a cemetery.

Brimstone Hill Fortress

Brimstone Hill Fortress

This is the site of the historical battle between the British and French fighting over control of the sugar island. In January 1782 8,000 French troops attacked the island and besieged the Fortress. For one month 1,000 defenders from the Royal Scots and East Yorkshire Regiment fought valiantly before surrendering, allowed by the French to march out of the Fortress with full honor. Only a year later, the island was returned to the British after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

In 1965 The Society for the Restoration of Brimstone Hill Fortress was found and major works contributed for the restoration and rebuilding of the Fortress, today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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As we walk down the hill we come across a troupe of about 20 vervet monkeys. Brought to the island as pets during the slave trade period, they are now populating the hills and forests of St Kitts&Navis in great numbers. One of their popular hangouts is the Brimstone Hill Fortress.

Vervet monkeys St Kitts, Brimstone Hill

Vervet monkeys St Kitts, Brimstone Hill

Verevet Monkey, St Kitts

Verevet Monkey, St Kitts

 

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We are a family aboard a boat in search of freedom and adventure.
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2 Responses to A Visit to Brimstone Hill Fortress

  1. David says:

    thanks, Mira . . . always learn something new from your posts!

  2. Natalia says:

    Здравейте! Редовно следя пътешествието,много ми е интересно как хората си живеят на малък остров и как се снабдяват с толкова различни неща,като цимент,тухли и други неща,които се произвеждат на сушата.Имам ужасно много работа,все по-трудно се справям с безброй задължения.Ивайло въобще не си идва вече,праща ми по някой лев ,плащам на хора за услуги.Много неща мога да напиша,обаче не е удобно всеки да ги чете.Бъдете здрави , попътен вятър и дълбочина на водата под киловете!

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