Port Royal And The Palisadoes
A drive to Port Royal is also a must. The
island stands at the end of the Palisadoes,
a promontory tht nearly encircles the waterfront.
Port Royal has a long and interesting history
and has had many names, both official and
unofficial. It was originally called Cayo
de Carena, because Spanish vessels would
be hauled on shore and then laid on their
sides so the hulls could be careened - repaired
and cleared of barnacles. The English named
it the Point, and realizing its strategic
importance built Fort Cromwell, later renamed
Fort Charles. It was te first of six forts
to be built manned by a garrison of more
than 2,500 men. A town developed to service
the needs to the garrison, its soldiers
and the pirates who also used it as a base,
and at one time there were said to have
been one inn or rum shop for every ten residents,
and this gave rise to some of its nicknames,
including the Babylon of the West, City
of Gold and Sin City. One writer described
it as : 'the richest, wichedest city in
On 7 June 1692, Port Royal ws struck by
a massive earthquake and tidal wave. More
thatn 2,000 people died and most of the
buildings were destroyed with may literally
falling into the sea or the huge crevices
that opened up. The tidal wave was so poweful
that it lifted one vessel in the harbor
and dropped it on the roofs of theruined
buildings. The causeway that connected Port
Royal to the Palisadoes was also swept away.
Legend has it that the bell in the church
tower which fell into the sea, can still
sometimes be heard tolling from beneath
Although work started on rebuilding Port
Royal almost immediately, the town was gutted
by fire in 1703, and many residents decided
it was time to relocate. The Royal Navy
stayed on and Port Royal was their main
Caribbean base until 1905. Because of the
naval presence, there were also traders
but these gradually moved to Kingston as
the mainland settlelment grew. Port Royal
was hit by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 but
escaped remarkable unscathed, and there
are many buildings and museums to explore.
After your explorations you can enjoy a
tasty snack and then perhaps visit one of
many nearby cays for a swim or snorkel.
is at the western tip of The Palisadoes
and is very well preserved with its rows
of semi-circular gun ports in the fading
red brickwork. The yound lieutenant Nelson
was stationed here, and a plaque in his
memory reads: "You who tread in his footprints,
remember his glory."
Fort Charles Maritime
Museum exhibits displays of man's
relationship tothe sea from the times of
the Arawaks, and traces the development
of Jamaican maritime history. There is a
scale model of the fort and models of ships
of past eras. It is located in the old British
naval headquarters and is open from 10 am
to 4 pm daily.
The National Museum of Historical Archaeology
is located in what used ot be
the naval hospital that spent a lot of its
time fighting epidemics of yellow fever.
The museum displays the history of the Jamaican
people and techniques of excavation being
used in the study of Port Royal's history
based on marine and land deposits. It is
open from 10 am to 5 pm, Monday to Saturday.
close to the fort, is a former artillery
store, and gets its name because of its
strange tilt, the result of having been
moved by the 1907 earthquake.
Port Royal Marine
Laboratory of the University of the West
Indies is based in Port Royal.
Founded in 1955, the laboratory began as
a small room i the Old Naval Dockyard but
later moved to a one-acre site, "Crab Hall'
beside the navy Hospital.
The Port Royal Laboratory has been important
in undergraduate teaching of marine biology
and marine ecology and in recent years has
undertaken courses inaquaculture, fisheries
and coastal management. For additional iformation
on Marine Sciences, contact the Centre for
Marine Science, University of the West Indies,
P.O. Box 32, Kingston, Jamaica, W.I. 927-1660.
As you head back along the promontory, you
can spot the remains of other fortifications
and be on the look out for wildlife. The
whole area is protected and home to a large
number of birds, animals and reptiles.