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Fort Charles at Port Royal © Jamaica Gleaner
Fort Charles at Port Royal © Jamaica Gleaner

A Tour of Kingston's Architectural Landmarks

Picture of Sheri-kae McLeod
Freelance Caribbean Writer
Updated: 19 February 2018

Kingston, the capital city of Jamaica founded in 1692, is the hub of history, culture and commerce on the beautiful island. Having a history of pirates, revolts and political uprisings, Kingston has many landmarks that showcase just how much the city has grown into the town that now produces Jamaican legends and icons. Here is a tour of Kingston’s most popular landmarks.

Bob Marley Museum

The Bob Marley Museum is located on Hope Road and is the home where the famous reggae singer lived and recorded from 1975 until his death in 1981. The museum has a big collection of significant memorabilia, including Bob Marley’s gold and platinum records, his order of merit presented by the Jamaican government, and Marley’s favourite denim shirt. The museum also features his former recording studio, now transformed into an exhibition hall, the legend café and the Bob Marley gift shop, which sells the famous Marley coffee. Upon entrance to the museum, there is a Bob Marley statue – one of three on the island.

Bob Marley Museum, 6, 56 Hope Rd, Kingston, Jamaica, +1 876 630 1588

Devon House

Devon House is one one the most celebrated landmarks in Jamaica. The Georgian-style house was built in 1881, on a property once known as Devon Penn, hence its name. The house was the residence of Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel. The mansion is furnished with a collection of 19th-century antiques which tells the story of a rich West Indian Victorian era. The property is covered in lush green lawns, with flowers, high-rising palm trees and a water fountain. Today, there are tours offered to visitors who want to explore the house. The property also features a number of restaurants including the extremely popular Devon House “I-Scream”.

Devon House,Hope Rd, Kingston, Jamaica, +1 876 926 0815

Emancipation Park

The theme of emancipation dominates Jamaica’s historical background. Emancipation Day in Jamaica is celebrated on 1 August every year to mark the day when Africans in the British colonies of the Caribbean received their freedom in 1834. In keeping with the emancipation theme, Emancipation Park was built and opened to the public in 2002. The park has now become a premier landmark in the Kingston area, and is a popular venue for historical and cultural events. The park features three water fountains, lush gardens and various stonework and statues. At the entrance of the park is a male and female statue, designed to represent the freedom and strength of the Jamaican people.

Emancipation Park, Oxford Road, Kingston, Jamaica, +1 876 926 6312

Port Royal

Port Royal is one of the Caribbean’s oldest and most historic cities. Located at the mouth of the Kingston harbour, the city was founded in 1518 and once had the reputation of being the richest and wickedest city in the world! Port Royal was also home to generations of pirates and was the headquarters of pirate pillage. A massive earthquake in 1692, which swallowed about two-thirds of the city, and another in 1907, have shaped many of the city’s landmarks today, including the famous Giddy House, the Royal Artillery House which was tilted and partially sunk as a result of the 1907 earthquake.

Port Royal, Jamaica

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Giddy House, Port Royal | © Naresh Singh/Flickr

Fort Charles

The first fort built in Port Royal was in late 1650-60. It was originally called Fort Cromwell, but was renamed Fort Charles to celebrate the British monarch returning to the throne. After 1655, when the English gained control of the island, they began construction of Fort Cromwell to defend their new acquisition from the Spanish. At its peak in 1765, the fort had 104 guns and a garrison of 500 men. Although the fort underwent many changes due to Port Royal’s natural disasters, the set-up of the lined cannons on the outside wall of the fort is still the same. There is also now a small museum located inside the fort.

Fort Charles, Port Royal, Jamaica

National Heroes Park

The National Heroes Park is a designated area in Kingston honouring Jamaica’s seven national heroes with monuments in an area known as The Shrine. It is also the burial place of many of Jamaica’s prime ministers. The park is located in an area that was once a popular horse-racing centre and a venue for historical events including Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Today, the park is still a popular venue for events during the year.

National Heroes Park, Jamaica, +1 876 656 8031

Liberty Hall: The Legacy of Marcus Garvey

Liberty Hall is a cultural and educational institution in Kingston, dedicated to Marcus Garvey, one of Jamaica’s national heroes. Liberty Hall was the centre of activities for the Kingston division of Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). After more than 60 years of closure following Garvey’s death, Liberty Hall was reopened in 2003. It now features the Garvey Multimedia Museum, the Garvey Research Reference Library and the Garvey Multimedia Computer Centre. The building is also a popular venue for outreach programmes in Kingston.

Liberty Hall, 76 (Upper)King Street, Downtown Kingston, Jamaica, +1 876 948 8639

Trench Town Culture Yard

Trench Town is the home of many important reggae artistes, including Bunny Wailer, the Heptones, Peter Tosh and, of course, Bob Marley. The Culture Yard was refurbished and opened in 2000 as a museum to host the phenomenal history of Trench Town. Culture Yard is known for being the home where Bob Marley lived as a youth and where he learned to play the guitar and wrote some of his most popular songs. The museum features articles, instruments and furnishing used by Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. The grounds also features the Casbah Café, Lion of Judah Courtyard and In-house Artisan Shops.

Trench Town Culture Yard Museum, 6 & 8 1st St, Kingston, Jamaica, +1 876 859 6741

Rockfort

Rockfort in Kingston was built in the late 1600s as protection against the possibility of a French invasion and is one of the six forts outside Port Royal that protected Kingston Harbour. After two massive earthquakes, many of the cannons were destroyed but the fort is still standing. Located nearby the fort is the Rockfort Mineral Bath, one of the oldest public facilities in Kingston with water direct from a cold spring.

Rockfort Mineral Bath, A4, Kingston, Jamaica, +1 876 938 5055

Holy Trinity Cathedral

The Holy Trinity Cathedral replaced the Holy Trinity Church in Kingston that was destroyed by the 1907 earthquake. The church is the biggest and undoubtedly the most beautiful church in Jamaica. The cathedral was built in 1911 and architect Raymond F. Admiral from New York designed its Byzantine Revival style. The church features murals and artwork inspired by Victorian-era artists.

Holy Trinity Cathedral, George Headley Dr, Kingston, Jamaica, +1 876 922 3335