Montego Bay known as the second city of Jamaica behind Kingston is a major tourism hub of the country where the place is visited by at least eighty per cent of the tourist population of the country. The coastal city is geographically bounded with Ocean on the western side and hills on the other three sides. During the Spanish and English invasions which took place in 1511 to 1655, the city developed as an economic centre for trade and hence attracted wealthy merchants and traders to establish houses which introduced elegant Georgian style of Architecture that married to functional vernacular Jamaican building style. The city known for its slave Rebellion movement which took place in the 1830s has also created an impact on the urban fabric of the place.

1. Sam Sharpe Square

Located at heart of the city, the nodal point was named after National Hero Sam Sharpe who was executed for the emancipation at this place which was previously known as the market place. The square comprises of bronze statues depicting Sam Sharpe preaching his followers surrounded by Cage – a stone and brick structure, which was formerly a jail for runaway slaves and the Civic Centre which was formerly a courthouse was built in Georgian Style of Architecture.

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Jail in Sam Sharpe Square. ©
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Sam Sharpe Square. ©
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Sam Sharpe Square. ©

2. Rose Hall Great House

The 19th-century mansion was built on 290acres of land on the hills of former Sugar Estate. The majestic building has a symmetrical façade and is accessed through double flights of stone steps laid linearly.  Constructed with cut stone on first two levels and stucco work on the upper levels, the building comprises of the verandah at the second level which offers a panoramic view of coast side is accessed through a grand symmetrical staircase. The interior of the building has furniture made of mahogany wood along with paneling on floors and ceilings.

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Rose Hall Great House Facade. ©
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Facade View of Rose Hall- ©
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Dining Room at Rose Hall Great House. ©

3. James Parish Church

The church was constructed in the 18th century when the town was an important center for trade. The building made of white limestone dressed in ashlar masonry is constructed in Greek Cross Plan with a bell tower at the western side. Large round-headed sash windows form a part of façade along with Palladian Styled stained glass window at the Altar region.

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Exterior View of St James Church. ©Andre Washington, Facebook
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Exterior View of St James Church. ©YewcoKootnikoff,
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View of Altar at St James Church. ©Andre Washington, Facebook

4. Greenwood Great House

Built from 1780 to 1800, the 2 stories high mansion was erected in timber and stone structure with sash window and the hipped roof. The structure is of historical importance as it has survived the slave rebellion in 1831. One can get insights into Jamaica’s past through this national monument which features a library, oil paintings and antique furniture of the 1600s. The fifteen roomed building was primarily constructed to entertain guests and has balconies that overlook gardens and ocean.

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External View of Greenwood Great House. ©
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Garden View of Greenwood Great House. ©Madam Zozo.
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Living Room at Greenwood Great House. ©Madam Zozo,

5. St Mary’s Anglican Church

St. Mary’s Anglican Church located on Montpelier estate was formerly a slave hospital and later served as a local church after the slave rebellion.  The cut stone building dates back to 1800s and has a defined entrance of gothic style with pointed arch stone architrave. The exterior of the building is characterized by lancet window with the multipartite pointed arched window at the rear side of the building.

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View of St Marys Anglican Church. ©
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View of St Marys Anglican Church. ©
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View of St Marys Anglican Church. ©

6. Harbour Street Crafts Market

The narrow linkage of stalls which runs along three blocks long is a home to hand made Jamaican crafts that include custom woodworking, colorful painting, etc. The vibrant street is characterized by a single-story structure with sloped metal sheet roofing where there are also vendors who set up their tents. Colors such as yellow, blue, purple and green dominate the urban visual character of the place.

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Buildings at Craft Market. ©
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Exterior View of Craft Market. ©
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Exterior View of Craft Market. ©

7. Montego Bay Cultural Centre

Located on historic site is a former Civic Centre Building that underwent renovation and is preserved as a cultural heritage building. The building incorporates National Museum West and also exhibits historical, cultural and artistic displays. The architecture of the building portrays Georgian Style with Jamaican influence with features that include cut stone ashlar masonry, multi-paneled windows and symmetrical façade with gable roofing.

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External Facade at Cultural Centre. ©
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Exterior View of Cultural Centre. ©Balou46
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Exterior View of Cultural Centre. ©

8. Glouchester Avenue

Also known as Hip Strip is a stretch of land which runs parallel to the sea is the most active part of Montego Bay. The never-sleeping part of the city comprises of entertainment zone that combines shopping, music and gastronomy with around 13 hotels, 60 shops and over 35 bars. The stretch also includes world-renowned Doctors Cave beach known for its pure white sand and crystal-clear water.

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Aerial View of Hip Strip. ©
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Doctors Cave Beach. ©
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View at Hip Strip. ©

9. Green Grotto Caves

A natural limestone cave that stretches in the underground is 1525m long and 12m deep and houses plenty of chambers and light holes with a subterranean lake also called Grotto Lake. The cave where the walls are covered with Green Algae has numerous rocks with stalactite and stalagmite formation at their ceiling pockets. However, the cave holds a historical significance to pre- Columbian settlements called Arawak Indians who were the first Jamaicans and found shelters in these caves. Further during the colonial period, the cave functioned as a hideout spot for the Spaniards who were being driven out of the country.

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View at Green Grotto Caves. ©
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View at Green Grotto Caves. ©
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Water Body at Green Grotto Caves. ©

10. Burchell Memorial Baptist Church

The church was established in 1824 by Thomas Burchell who was a leading Baptist missionary and slavery abolitionist at Montego Bay. The building incorporates an architectural style with exposed bricks, gable roofs and pointed arched windows. The structure is also known to bury the remains of Sam Sharpe in the vaults who was known as the National Hero and was executed for emancipation at Montego Bay.

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Facade View of Burchell Memorial Church. ©
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View of Burchell Memorial Church. ©
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View of Burchell Memorial Church. ©

11. Rastafari Indigenous Village

A living cultural centre located outside Montego Bay showcases cultures and values of Rastafarians through local art forms and crafts work. The architectural style adopted by the Rastafarians were traditional Jamaican style of the pre-Columbian period that made use of timber frame construction methods and other local materials. The built structures were temporary in nature due to their tendency of belief of “do it yourself nature” as they usually separate themselves from the wider community. The village is also characterized by images and graffiti applied on surfaces that are symbolic in nature.

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View at Rastafari Village. ©
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View at Rastafari Village. ©
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View at Rastafari Village. ©

12. Creek Dome

The structure erected over a source of the creek was initially built to guard the spring, however, later formed a significant role for water supply. The yellow brick tower is built in a hexagonal shape with white wooden fixed louvres. The roof is slightly curved and is crenellated at the top of the tower. Over a period of time, the usage of the dome was reduced with the installation of a water pipe system in 1893 and was used as an alternate source during droughts.

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View of Creek Dome. ©Keri Johnson
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View of creek Dome. ©
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View of Creek Dome. ©

13. Fort Street

A cultural walk along these streets give an insight into authentic Jamaican lifestyle. The street, known for its commercial establishments is characterized by 1 to 2 story buildings with a sloping roof made of stone and timber structure. Temporary elements such as graffiti walls, tents by street vendors add to the visual character of the place. The buildings represent the Jamaican Georgian style of architecture with key features that include multi-paneled windows and pediments at front entry.

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Fort Street Downtown. ©
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View at Fort Street. ©
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View at Fort Street. ©

14. Fort Montego

Consists of remnants of the old British fort built during the early 1700s. The fort was primarily built as a part of the coastal defense to protect Jamaica from French and Spanish attacks. In the year 1799, the fort underwent major reconstruction where platforms, parapet walls and paving were built. The fort was known to house four 12-pound cannons and five smaller guns; however, the canons and guns were only used as a means to celebrate birthdays of British Monarchs.

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Wishing well at Fort Montego. ©
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View at Fort Montego. ©
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Armoury base at Fort Montego. ©

15. Montego Bay City Center

A shopping centre primarily for souvenirs is a double story colonnade structure built in the Jamaican vernacular style of architecture. The upper floor comprises of linear verandahs with railings that form a street view of the place. The colonnaded arcade extends up to the edge of the road and forms a part of streetscapes and unifies with its surroundings.

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Exterior View at Shopping Centre. ©
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Exterior View at Shopping Centre. ©
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Exterior View at Shopping Centre. ©

Pavana Rao A is an Architect and an Urban Designer by profession who values the concept of people-centric designs. With a mindset to broaden her horizon, she also aims to explore and express the field of Architecture through the medium of writing. 

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