Almost all Architects are travel enthusiasts. Travel helps stimulate creative thinking, experience different cultures and user behaviours in the built environment, and most importantly, it provides an opportunity to explore different architectural styles worldwide.
One such popular tourist destination is Nassau, the capital city of the Bahamas (Caribbean). Its white-sand beaches, pastel-coloured buildings, museums, restaurants, and tropical experience fascinates and attracts many tourists around the globe and makes this place a perfect vacation spot to relax and rejuvenate.
The Bahamas has 700 islands and thousands of rocks and cays dispersed across 100,000 square miles of water. It’s an ecological haven with some of the world’s purest waters, but there’s more to it than just lovely beaches to discover.
Did you know that Bahamian Architecture elicits many Architects as well? Nassau, the capital city, has great examples of coastal architecture and eco-friendly building practices. Here are the 15 places for all Architecture enthusiasts to visit in Nassau, Bahamas:
1. Parliament Square
With its Georgian neoclassical buildings, Parliament Square is a prominent tourist destination in Nassau’s downtown area. The House of Assembly, the Senate Building, and the Supreme Court of the Bahamas are all pink-and-white buildings with colonial influences. They symbolize the country’s history, present, and future.
2. Queen’s Staircase
The Queen’s Staircase, often known as the 66 Steps, is a popular tourist attraction in Nassau’s Fort Fincastle Historical Complex. Between 1793 and 1794, slaves carved it out of solid limestone rock, and it is supposed to have offered straight access from Fort Fincastle to Nassau City. These steps were eventually renamed in honor of Queen Victoria, who ruled the United Kingdom for 64 years between 1837 and 1890.
3. Fort Montagu
This is Nassau’s oldest and most well-preserved fort. It was constructed in 1741 out of local limestone to aid in the defense of the Bahamas from invading pirates. The fort originally had a rainwater cistern, officer and soldier dormitories, a guardroom, and a powder magazine. A storm destroyed the fort’s magazine and commanders’ quarters, which were located in the heart of the fort.
4. Nassau Public Library
The Nassau Public Library and Museum is the largest and oldest of the Bahamas’ five libraries. In 1837, the Bahamas Club for the Diffusion of Knowledge merged with a reading society to become the library. With the passage of the Nassau Public Library Act in 1847, the Nassau Public Library became a legal entity. It is one of the Commonwealth’s oldest public libraries.
5. Gregory’s Archway
The arch gets its name from Governor John Gregory, who was in service around 1850. It is a twenty feet tall archway and bridge, cutting through a thick limestone hill. The little tunnel serves as a scenic entrance to Over the Hill and the historic communities of Grants Town and Bain Town.
6. Fort Fincastle
This fort was built in the shape of a paddle-wheel steamboat in 1793 and strategically located atop Bennet’s Hill to safeguard old Nassau town and its harbor. It was built under the rule of John Murray, also known as Viscount Fincastle. Despite having succumbed to the elements over time, the ruins nonetheless include various historical artifacts, including reproductions of the city’s guns.
7. Fort Charlotte
With a total area of 100 acres, Fort Charlotte is the largest in New Providence. It is on a hill overlooking the extreme west end of the harbor, providing an excellent view of Paradise Island, Nassau, and the port, and is located one mile west of downtown Nassau, right off West Bay Street.
The fort was named after Queen Saharia Charlotte, King George III’s wife, and was built in 1788 by Lord Dunmore. The fort features a moat, dungeons, underground corridors, and 42 cannons that have never been used in a hostile act.
8. Balcony House
The Balcony House is an 18th century, colonial loyalist style structure and the oldest wooden building in Nassau. It’s famous for having a balcony that overlooks the market square, which was unusual at the time. Currently, the home is being transformed into a museum.
9. Jacaranda House
Jacaranda is a beautifully magnificent ancient colonial mansion built in 1840 that lies on 1.5 acres of land just above Rawson Square in the heart of downtown Nassau. Amid a bustling city, it is a haven of peace and tranquility. The gardens are timeless, and the house is complemented by the elegance of its time’s classical architecture. After years of being vacant, the house is now revamped to its previous glory.
10. The Christ Church Cathedral
The Christ Church Cathedral is a historical landmark and the first church constructed in the Bahamas. The Spaniards demolished the Parish of Christ Church’s original structure in 1684, and a new structure was built in 1695—only to be destroyed by the Spaniards again in 1703. The third structure was constructed in 1724, and while Spaniards did not destroy it, it was made of wood, so it was replaced in 1754 by a fourth Gothic-style structure made of cut stone from a local quarry for strength and durability.
11. The Priory-Dunmore House
Lord Dunmore built this beautiful house between 1787 and 1788. The house has undergone many transformations in its use and function, right from being the governor’s house to office quarters in 1829, a military hospital after that, a monastery, and finally the National Museum in its current use.
12. The Deanery House
The Deanery, possibly The Bahamas’ oldest home, is thought to have been built in 1710. The house is made of stone with chamfered quoins and has three stories. Originally, three-tiered verandas were wrapped around the east, west, and north sides, with the north side facing the sea. The house has undergone some alterations over the years, but the actual construction has remained the same. With its fireplace and domed brick oven, the kitchen was once housed in a separate structure, which is still standing today.
13. St Augustine’s Monastery
At the age of 70, Ar. John Hawes began work on St Augustine’s College, Monastery, and Church at Fox Hill, New Providence, which became his largest architectural project in the Bahamas.
On April 12, 1946, work at St Augustine’s College and the monastery began. The project’s first stages were finished in eleven months and comprised two 160-foot-long blocks. Two enormous gargoyles built by Hawes, one of which is still in situ – the other partially – are a feature of the monastery, as they are on his Mullewa church.
14. The Cloister and Versailles Garden
On Paradise Island, the Versailles Gardens are a magnificently beautiful multi-terraced landscape built in a rectangle form roughly 75 feet wide. The gardens stretch for about a quarter-mile from the Ocean Club to the island’s southernmost point, with views of Nassau Harbor.
A stone path covered with Bermuda grass runs the length of Versailles, connecting the terraces and dividing the city into two halves. To the east and west of this walkway, there are hand-laid rock ridges. These ridges are made up of reddish-tan flint rock and grey sandstone that has developed a rusty grey appearance over time. These ridges serve as the foundation for the brightly pigmented purple.
15. The Water Tower
The storage tank, constructed in 1928, is the tallest structure on Harbor Island (126 feet) for the island’s water supply. The best way to get to the tower area is to climb the Queen’s Staircase, one of the island’s oldest attractions.
It is believed that the US provided funds to build the tower in exchange for Nassau’s assistance in keeping illegal liquor during Prohibition. Note the enclosed base, which is rare for a water tower. Although the building is closed for renovations, there is a meandering 216-step staircase leading to the top.
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