Beautiful they are of course, but resorts will only ever show you one highly sanitized version of the Jamaican way of life. If you want a taste of the Caribbean culture, you’ll have to venture beyond the beach cabana and into the city – and where better to begin than in and around the capital. This half-day itinerary will introduce you to some of Jamaica’s complex and volatile history.
Note: Given the distance between the stops in this itinerary and the unreliable nature of Jamaican public transport, it is advisable to rent a car or negotiate a half-day taxi fare.
Stop 1: Through the 16th to the 19th centuries, Spanish Town was first the Spanish, then the English capital of Jamaica. Built by conquistadors as St. Jago de la Vega between 1534 and 1655 on the West Bank of the Rio Cobre, its colonial-era architecture is nothing short of exquisite.
Stop 2: Devon House, a grand Georgian-style mansion (1881) set among neatly trimmed English gardens and fringed by towering palms, is one of Jamaica’s most celebrated historical landmarks. It takes around 40 minutes to reach this part of Uptown Kingston from Spanish Town.
Stop 3: Downtown Kingston, a 45-minute drive away, has a distinctly different feel to Uptown. The decaying infrastructure is a sign of both past glories, and the challenges the country faces in the near future. It’s perhaps apt that some of Jamaica’s best museums are found in this historical neighborhood. The shelves of the Museums of History and Ethnography (10 East Street) are crammed with 15,000 fascinating artifacts charting all that Jamaica has done, witnessed and achieved from the prehistoric to contemporary eras.
Stop 4: The National Gallery of Art (12 Ocean Boulevard, Block C), Jamaica’s best art museum, is only a five-minute stroll away. Home to sculptures and paintings by Jamaica’s most famous artists, it covers pre-Columbian times to the present day.
Eager to visit? Search and compare cheap flights to Kingston.
Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…
(Image: Vox Efx)