Kingston Tourist Attractions
Kingston, Jamaica's busy capital, offers a cosmopolitan contrast to the rest of the island's relaxed pace. On the southeast corner of Jamaica, at the foot of the Blue Mountains, Kingston is the center of the country's government and commerce.
Historical and cultural attractions are on hand here in the birthplace of Jamaica's own reggae music.Kingston can be intimidating. At first neither welcoming nor attractive, the city is diminished by squalor. Downtown, with its hustlers and street vendors, is neglected although redevelopment is underway. There is a pleasant contrast between modern houses and apartment buildings flanking 18th C Georgian homes with their porticos and balconies. A distinctly Jamaican dialect or patois which mixes elements of Portuguese, Spanish, English and African languages is spoken amongst Kingston's residents.Kingston was founded in 1692 when survivors from the Port Royal earthquake relocated across the harbor. Most of Port Royal slipped into the sea after a subsequent tidal wave. Archaeological research is being performed on the undersea town.A number of fine 18th C mansions, Kingston Parish Church c1699 and the Parade, a busy square where British soldiers once trained are other relics of the colonial period.Kingston is home to the Norman Manley International Airport. Also a shipping center, it includes modern cruise ship facilities. Tours will take travelers to explore mansions like historic Devon House, the National Gallery, which houses a comprehensive collection of Jamaican art or the Bob Marley Museum.The Blue Mountains, which form a picturesque backdrop for the city, can be reached after a short drive up from the Kingston for hiking and guided tours.Kingston is the largest English-speaking city south of Miami and is the seventh largest natural harbor in the world.
Blue Mountains and John Crow Mountains National Park
Blue Mountains and John Crow Mountains National Park is an unspoiled preserve offering mountain vistas, waterfalls, lush rain forests and exotic plants and animals.The park consists of nearly 200,000ac/80,000ha of land divided into three sections: Portland Gap which includes Stony Hill and the Hills of St Andrew; Hollywell and Annotto Bay; and Portland and Millbank which include the John Crow Mountains.The park is the natural habitat for the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly
Institute of Jamaica Museums
The Institute of Jamaica's museums cover a wide range of the country's history from prehistoric to modern times. The Museums of History and Ethnography are spread across Jamaica.The Natural History Museum include the largest collection of books, articles and prints in the West Indies traces the Jamaica's history. Maps and folklore exhibits are viewed including the "shark papers", incriminating journals thrown overboard by a sea captain only to turn up later in the belly of a shark.The Natural History Museum is the oldest museum in Jamaica. Exhibits of preserved animals and plants found on the island contain 130,000 specimens.
Hope Gardens is the largest botanical park in the West Indies. Opened in 1881 it features an orchid house and small amusement park for children including a petting zoo.
National Heroes Park
National Heroes Park is a 75ac/30ha park in Kingston featuring statues of leading players of Jamaican history and independence. Some of the country's famous heros are also burried here.
Bob Marley Museum
The Bob Marley Museum, at the Reggae superstar's former home is Kingston's most visited attraction. Highlights are Marley's bedroom with his star-shaped guitar by the bed, the bullet holes that ripped through the rear wall, evidence of an assassination attempt. It is the site of the Tuff Gong recording studio.
The 19th C mansion of Jamaica's first black millionaire, Devon House has been restored and the out buildings transformed into craft shops and restaurants. Craft fairs during Easter, Independence and Christmas showcase the work of local artists each year.
National Gallery of Jamaica
National Gallery of Jamaica displays a permanent exhibit of Jamaica's national art collection from the Intuitive to Modern. In addition the gallery also features the annual National Visual Arts Exhibition and Competition showcasing the latest works of Jaimacan artists including adults and youth.
University of the West Indies
Ancient aqueducts and modern murals are found on the campus of the University of the West Indies. Attended by students from all around the Caribbean, visitors may drive through the grounds.
Kingston Parish Church
Built in 1699 and reconstructed after an earthquake in 1907, the church contains documents important to prominent Jamaicans.
At the tip of the peninsula surrounding Kingston Harbor lies the community of Port Royal. The focus of British fortification in the late 17th C, Port Royal was also the headquarters of pirates who preyed on Spanish ships throughout the Caribbean. Prosperous Port Royal had the reputation as the wickedest place on earth. In 1692 an earthquake and tidal wave destroyed 90 percent of the city, most of which slipped beneath the sea. The submerged town is undergoing underwater archaeological research.
Gunboat Beach is at the end of a narrow spit of land which encloses Kingston Harbor. Popular with locals because of the jerk stalls and loud music it is a great place to socialize with Kingstonians although not recommended for swimming.
Fort Charles Maritime Museum
The Fort Charles Maritime Museum traces the development of Jamaican maritime history. Scale models of the fort and ships are located in former British naval headquarters where Horatio Nelson served as a naval lieutenant in 1779.
St Peter's Church
Built in 1725 to replace Christ's Church which slid into the sea in 1692, the church houses an 18th C candelabrum, altar railings, an elaborate organ loft and a silver communion plate that was from former pirate Henry Morgan.
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