English Harbour, Antigua
Harbour, Antigua's graceful and evocative historic district, is
focused on the fifteen square miles of Nelson's Dockyard National
Park. Developed as a base for the British Navy in the great age
of sail, the harbour served as the headquarters of the fleet of
the Leeward Islands during the turbulent years of the late 18th
century. Although the dockyard was greatly expanded at that time
by Horatio Nelson,
it was gradually abandoned in the nineteenth century and was closed
in 1889. Today Nelson's Dockyard has been completely restored,
and it is now the only Georgian dockyard in the world.
all of the park's other sites of interest overlook the harbour.
The closest of these is Clarence House, a residence built for the
future King William IV (1765-1837) when he served under Nelson
as captain of the H.M.S. Pegasus. Further above the harbour, at Shirley
Heights, are the partially-restored fortifications of
the harbour's colonial observation post; the view from Shirley
Heights extends out over the harbour and far across the Caribbean
to Montserrat and Guadaloupe. On Sundays the vista is enhanced
by barbeque and live music at the bar there (Steel Band music from
3-6 pm & reggae from 6-9). Shirley Heights can be reached via
Lookout Trail, a nature walk that rises from the harbour through
a forest of trees--descending the trail is not advisable after
dark or barbecue revelry.
Lookout Trail and near Shirley Heights is Dow's Hill Interpretation
Center, at which visitors can watch an impressive multimedia presentation
of Antigua's history, from its initial settlement to independence.
Observation decks at Dow's Hill provide another fine view of the
harbour, as do the ruined fortifications of Fort Berkeley, located
on the far side of the bay and reached by a walk around its perimeter.
All of these points, as well as the park's convenient beaches,
become especially popular spectator positions during Sailing
Image on top via Flickr (cc) user David Stanley
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