Self-Guided Walking Tour Part 1

Bridgetown was named for an old Arawak bridge that crossed the inlet.

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Bridgetown Self-Guided
Walking Tour

Dating from 1628, Bridgetown is an easy place to walk, taking a couple of hours at most to explore. The sun is a hot one, so wear a good hat and sunblock. Almost half the island population lives in Bridgetown.

1. Trafalgar Square: One of Bridgetown's biggest surprises is a statue of Admiral Lord Nelson in a place called Trafalgar Square. However, Bridgetown 's Lord Nelson is not an imitation of London's. Native Bajans had a strong affection for Nelson. He visited Barbados, in command of the British fleet, just six months before his death at Trafalgar in 1805. Following the Admiral's demise, an existing square was renamed Trafalgar and his statue erected in 1813, about 36 years ahead of England's more famous one.

2. Dolphin Fountain/The Fountain Gardens: Bridgetown had piped-in water as early as 1861. A local newspaper suggested a proper fountain be erected in a central spot; the citizens donated money and the fountain, with its water-spewing dolphins was installed in 1865. Work on the gardens surrounding the fountain didn't begin until 1882. Note the curious cannonball tree here.

3. Public (Parliament) Buildings: Barbados has the third-oldest parliamentary body in the English-speaking world, dating from 1639, second only to Britain and Bermuda. The earliest building was built in 1640 but burned in the Bridgetown fire of 1668.

For the next 30 years, the officials had to meet in people's homes and--quite frequently--public taverns. The west wing of this building was completed in 1871, the east in 1874. Both the Senate and House of Assembly meet here. Stained glass windows in the east buildings show many statesmen, including Oliver Cromwell, who date back to the time of Queen Victoria.

4. Chamberlain Bridge: According to legend, the capital city of Bridgetown received its name from the Arawak Indian bridge the first settlers found spanning the inlet. First known simply as "The Bridge," it later was changed to Bridgetown. Today, the Chamberlain Bridge spans the inlet where the Indian bridge probably existed, at a spot known as The Careenage.

The Careenage, a concentration of waterfront restaurants and shop, colorful fishing boats and fishing charters, marks the place where the old sailing ships were tilted over--careened--so their bottoms could be scraped.

This is the area where Barbados' famous, colorful wooden flying fish boats once anchored between trips out to sea. The boats have moved but are still nearby at the marina between Bridgetown and the cruise terminal.

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