U.S. Virgin Islands
With its colonial buildings and open air restaurants, Christiansted is ideal for exploring on foot.
The largest of the U.S. Virgins, St. Croix (pronounced "St. Croy") is the French version of the name Columbus chose for it, Santa Cruz ("Holy Cross").
St. Croix is separated into two distinct regions marked by the cities of Christiansted and Frederiksted. Both cities are characteristically Danish, adapting 18th-century European styles to the West Indies.
Strict building codes kept the towns from becoming shoddily-built tinderboxes. Unlike some of the more ramshackle British-ruled outposts, these cities were never leveled by fire, an all too common occurrence.
By law, a building's first floor had to be constructed of brick and stone, so a lot of yellow brick was shipped as ballast from Denmark for this purpose. Wood could be used only in the second floor, normally the living quarters. The first floor usually contained the shops and retail stores.
It was common to build long galleries across the front on the second floor and support them with stone arches, leaving the sidewalks well shaded.
Most of the hotels and shopping are located in Christiansted, rightly considered one of the Caribbean's prettier ports due to the lingering Danish influence.
Several blocks along the waterfront are part of a 27-acre Christiansted National Historic District, including six historic buildings operated by the U.S. National Park Service.
Christiansted is the departure point for the popular day trips to Buck Island, probably the Caribbean's most famous snorkel trail.
is located at the western tip of St. Croix, a 45-minute
drive from Christiansted. Since its founding in 1751, it has been St.
Croix's main deepwater harbor; all cruise
ships dock here. Visitors are then transported by bus to Christiansted
and other points of interest.
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