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virgin islanders
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Touring Charlotte Amalie
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Touring Charlotte Amalie

Nowhere in the world can you enjoy such a diverse sights and sounds as you can in the U.S. Virgin Islands. From sun up until well past sun down, there is plenty of excitement for visitors of every age. Relax on pristine beaches. Frolic in crystal clear waters. Explore islands abundant with colorful history. Shop the treasure trove of shops in the duty-free port, than sample local dishes rich in flavor spices. Each Virgin is unique.

St. Croix is the largest island at 84 square miles. St. John covers 32 square miles. St John spreads over 19 square miles, while little sister Water island measures 76 square miles. The U.S. Virgin Islands are cluster of over 50 islands, 40 miles east of Puerto Rico, 1100 miles southeast of Miami and 1500 miles from New York City, straddling both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Virgin Islanders are a blend of many cultures and colors, including African, Danish, French, American, English and Scottish.

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas is the government seat and commerce center. One look at busy downtown Charlotte Amalie and its easy to envision days of old, with hustling, bustling warehouses filled with rum, spices and goods imported from throughout the world. Take a leisurely walking tour through ,,Tap House’’ or ,,beer hall’’, as it was often referred to. Each distinctive building, alleyway and street with tongue twisting Danish names chronicles the intricate web of history and traditions woven into this cultural melting pot. It’s a good idea to visit your concierge or the Information Booth at the head of Rise Alley on the Waterfront, to stock up on maps, brochures and friendly advice. Start your walking tour earlier in the day to avoid the hot afternoon sun. Wear comfortable shoes, cool clothing and a hat for shade.

Fort Christian – It easy to find Fort Christian, the massive red brick structure at the east end of Charlotte Amalie, where your tour begins. This National Historic Landmark completed the Danish settlers in 1680 and named after King Christian. It is the oldest building in continuous use on St. Thomas. It’s original purpose was to defend the colony and return the fire of hostile ships. Maybe it has no historic value, but Vendor’s Plaza beside Fort Christian is a colorful and lively bazaar of local vendors selling jewelry, handbags, t-shirts and souvenirs, cold drinks and hair braiding.

Directly behind Vendor’s Plaza is Emancipation Park, a serene little spot to relax in the shade. It honors emancipation of slaves in 1848. A white gazebo is often the site of music and festivities and a replica of the United States Liberty Bell is proudly displayed.

Back down Main Street, just past the Grand Galleria, the U.S. Post Office was built in 1935 on Antonio Jarvis Square. Inside are murals painted in 1936 by Saturday Evening Post artist Steven Dohanos, famous for his portrayals of Americana. Directly across from the Post Office you will find an uphill road famous as the Government Hill. Each building on this street evokes another chapter of St. Thomas history.

Hotel 1829 has been built as the home of an affluent merchant named Lavalette. You can still see his initials in the ornate balcony ironwork. Its paved terrace, large pillars and courtyard have the original romantic character of the building intact. Next to the Hotel 1829 are some of the most photographed steps in the world. Poor town planning resulted in steep staircase streets, such as Greater Tower Street, known as the 99 Steps. Observant climbers will notice that there are actually ships ballast. Colorful local flowers along the way set a beautiful scene. Few minutes after your climb rewards a spectacular view of the harbor at its pinnacle.

Turning left at the top of the 99 Steps you find the Crown House. The illustrious Danish Roth family, among them a Governor general of the Danish West Indies and a Commandant of St. Thomas, once inhabited this wooden 18th century structure. Across from Crown House, for the end of this part of our short walk through St. Thomas, you'll access the Sky Tower, known as Blackbeard's Castle. This Danish watchtower is one of four National Historic Landmarks in the Virgin Islands. Legend has it that at one time, the infamous pirate Blackbeard, used this tower as a stronghold.


Street Talk

Joan S  

Now you're making me want to return. Remember stopping there en route to St. John. Had an incredible lunch, then off to the other island. Had no idea about all the great things on Charlotte Amalie. Thank you for your article.

Reply
  about 6 years ago
  

St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix deserve at least a week of your attention. Excellent cuisine, beautiful nature, incredible beaches, shopping malls, a lot of adventures, hiking, sailing, diving, natural parks historic monuments and Great Resorts after all, like, Bluebeard's Castle, Morning Star, Westin Resort....in a few words fantastic travel destination. We continuously write on this topic on our blog so you are kindly invited to visit it, also looking forward to help you with any information regarding the Caribbean.

Reply
  about 6 years ago
Sylvia2  

Thanks. I'm off on a cruise next week, like I might have mentioned, and will be exploring more islands, even if for a brief time.

  
  about 6 years ago
Sylvia2  

Thank you. I hope you can make a return to Charlotte Amalie. I was in St. John as well, back in the early 90s. Would love to go again to the Vrgin Ilands, especially my favourite is Tortola, in the BVI

Reply
  about 6 years ago
  

I hope so, what someone said ,,Life is either a daring adventure or nothing''. I rather like to explore new places, still, Charlotte Amalie is unique and worth to visit again. And Tortola and Virgin Gorda Baths are among my most impressive tours I've ever been. Road Town is a popular spot where you can enjoy good food, visit museum, or simply lay back on a sandy beach, my favorite Frenchman's Cay. Have a great time on your cruise and write some of your impressions. We love to hear about.

  
  about 6 years ago
Sylvia2  

Yes, Charlotte Amalie is more than just a shoppers mecca ....... lots of history. Too bad some may miss that because they're bargain hunting! I much rather explore than shop.

Reply
  about 6 years ago
  

We will soon dedicate a whole topic to this incredible island. Make sure you check our blog a week from now. You'll find some interesting facts, and yes, I suggest you visit it. My favorite spot there: Marriott Morning Star Beach Resort, only few miles away from the city center.

Reply
  about 6 years ago
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