Castries Tourist Attractions
The town was founded by the French in about 1768 under the name Car'nage and renamed after a French official in 1785. The earlier settlement across the harbor at Vigie, started in 1651, was abandoned after the devastating hurricane of 1780.From 1803 to 1844 the British made the town a major naval port and built fortifications on Morne Fortune, the mountain which overlooks this important harbor. By 1844, Castries had a population of 4,000. By the end of the century it had become a major coaling station, because it was the only port in the Caribbean capable of holding the whole British navy. During WWI was used as a prison for captured Germans.During WWII, a German U-boat sailed into Castries harbor and sank two allied ships.Castries suffered major fires in 1796, 1813, 1927 and 1948 which have shaped its development.
The Castries market is situated at the eastern-most point of Castries harbor at the corner of Jeremie and Peynier streets. Partly indoor and outdoor products range from local crafts to produce. Beside the shopping opportunity, the main attraction is watching a slice of local life, colorful people and being introduced to many exotic vegetables.Crafts include batiks, wood carvings, gift baskets of spices, banana ketchups and oils, hand-made brooms, plus the usual souvenirs.While the market is open every day, the most active day is Saturday.
The port is a scenic place for those who like to watch cruise ships, since virtually every day brings one or two of these floating beauties. Ships use both quays on both the north and south shores of the harbor.On the Castries side, the Elizabeth II dock is exited through a duty-free shopping building and is just a few steps away from the Market and old Castries.Those docking on the south shore may not want to miss the larger duty free shopping across the water at Pointe Seraphine. Regular water taxies connect the two areas.
The German owned Barquentine Atlantis spends much of the year cruising between St Lucia and Grenada and can be seen in Castries Port on many Fridays. Its three masts carry a dozen impressive sails. Built in 1905 in Hamburg, this 57 m museum ship has found new life as a cruise ship with 18 cabins.
Pointe Seraphine is a newer cruise ship docking area with an interesting variety of duty-free shops. Water taxis connect this quay to the one which opens onto the center of Castries.
St Lucia Helicopters provides several types of flightseeing tours leaving from Pointe Seraphine. The 20 minute one to the south flies the coast over Marigot Bay and the Pitons and then returns over the Sulpher Park volcano and the rain forest.A 10 minute north island tour circles over Rodney Bay, Pigeon Point and the Atlantic coastline. Shuttle service to the Hewanorra Airport is also offered with sightseeing en route. Charter flights can be arranged.
Marquis Estate (Closed)
The Marquis Estate plantation is in the process of being developed into a resort.
The Old Town of Castries, the area bounded roughly by Jeremie, Peynier, Brazil streets and Chausee Road, contains many older buildings with overhanging balconies, gingerbread trim on the gables and touches that characterize French or British colonial buildings in the tropics. While many of these buildings are in need of restoration, walking the streets provides a glimpse of the romance of an era past.The area is just south of the Castries market.
Derek Walcott Square
Derek Walcott Square, named after St Lucia's Nobel laureate, is at the western end of the old town and a good starting point for a walk through this mix of Victorian, colonial and tropical architecture. The square is bounded by Micoud, Brazil, Bourbon and Laborie streets.Notable buildings include the cathedral, a colorfully restored public library opposite the Cathedral, plus a series of brightly painted gingerbread buildings with verandahs overhanging the sidewalk on the south side.
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception has recently undergone some restoration work. It has an Italianite-style clock tower centered on Derek Walcott square and a Victorian variation on a Romaneque design for the church itself.
More on PlanetWare