Bridgetown Travel Guide
Parliament Building © regani
Bridgetown, originally called 'Indian Bridge', is the capital and commercial centre of Barbados, with about 80,000 inhabitants. It is a busy port with a natural harbour inlet, known as the Careenage, and is well utilised by pleasure craft and fishing boats.
Bridgetown has a long and colourful history as a British settlement from the 17th century. A bustling city with many attractions for travellers, its mix of modern and historic buildings are interspersed with markets, monuments, and a number of lush gardens.
The main street, Broad Street, is where one finds banks, department stores and duty-free shops. At the top of Broad Street is the Parliament Building (the Barbados Parliament is the third oldest in the Commonwealth, dating from 1639), facing National Heroes Square. Bridgetown is home to a number of historical buildings that will interest visitors, including the Garrison Historic Area, which is a must-visit for military history buffs.
Another attraction in Bridgetown is a massive Baobab tree (said to have been brought to the island from Guinea, Africa around 1738). It takes 15 adults with outstretched arms to encircle the trunk. Also, just north of Bridgetown is the historic settlement of Holetown. Every year around mid-February, this little town comes alive when the creative and colourful Holetown Festival takes place, featuring historical lectures, fashion shows, beauty contests, street parades, tattoo shows, exhibitions, concerts, theatrical presentations, sporting events and an antique car parade.
Tourists in Bridgetown will find much to see and do: cricket games at Kensington Oval, which hosted the 2007 Cricket World Cup; the Barbados Derby at the racetrack in the Garrison area; and many other events and activities. A range of duty-free shops near the harbour sell staples like Mount Gay Rum, while more colourful shopping options include the Cheapside Market and the Swan Street pedestrian mall. Local restaurants in the Careenage serve up fresh lobster and fish with Caribbean flair.