Downtown & Bay Street, Nassau
The heart of downtown Nassau is best described as the six blocks of Bay Street plus the parallel Shirley and King streets to the south between the British Colonial Hilton on the west and the Parliament Buildings on the east. This section of Bay contains a series of upscale duty-free shops aimed at the thousands of cruise ship passengers arriving each week. While the straw market located here sell arts and crafts, the department stores sell collectibles, fine arts, perfumes, jewelry, clothing and other items some ranging into the thousands of dollars.Cross streets run up into the hills where other fine examples of colonial Georgian and Adams-style architecture are found.
The British Colonial Hilton Hotel was first built in 1922 and is one of the most historical hotels in the country.
The Straw Market in Nassau features traditional straw items such as hats, mats, and baskets but also offers an array of other goods including fine wood carvings, colorful fabrics and many other arts and crafts and souvenirs. The historic market building was destroyed by fire in September, 2001, but the market continues, located on Bay Street.
Houses of Parliament
Immediately south of Rawson Square is Parliament Square. The Parliament buildings, built 1805-16, are a fine example of British colonial architecture. The west building holds the House of Assembly and the central building is the Senate.A marble statue of a young Queen Victoria (installed 1905) stands in Parliament Square.
Just south of the Supreme Court stands an octagonal building (1798-9), originally built as a jail and now serving as the Nassau Public Library. Shelves extend into the old cells. The library contains a Nassau and Bahamian history collection plus a small display containing a few local artifacts.
Opening hours: 10am-9pm; Sat: 10am-4pm; Closed: Sun
Bahamas Historical Society Museum and Archives
Two blocks east of the public library on Shirley is a small museum, the Bahamas Historical Society Museum and Archives, dedicated to preserving and explaining the history of the Bahamas. The museum located in a former IODE meeting hall (early 20th century), has a small collection of artifacts ranging from the early Indians to photographs of what early Nassau looked like. It has some fine maps and hand-painted screens outlining historic events of the nation.
Address: Box SS-6833, Bahamas
Opening hours: 10am-4pm; Sat: 10am-12pm; Closed: Sun, Wed
Useful tips: The museum has hours but is not always open those hours so it is best to call first for an appointment to (242) 3224231.
Disability Access: No facilities for persons with disabilities.
Typical Visit: 30 minutes
Rawson Square sits between the Parliament buildings and the cruise ship docks. In the center is a statue of Sir Milo Butler, first Bahamian Governor-General (1973-9). The square itself is named after Governor Sir R.W. Rawson (1864-8).
Just south the Houses of Parliament are the Supreme Court (1920-1) and the Garden of Remembrance with a cenotaph.
Vendue House (Pompey Museum)
The neo-classical Vendue House was constructed in the early 1800s for auctions, including those of slaves. A second story was added in about 1913 when the building was taken over by the Telephone, Telegraph and Electricity Corporation. The building became the home of the Pompey Museum of Slavery and Emancipation. The roof of the building was damaged in the market fire of September, 2001 and underwent renovations.