Cruise destination travel guide - St. Kitts - St. Kitts attractions - Brimstone Hill
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St Kitts Overview
St. Kitts Brief History
St Kitts Cruise Port
St Kitts Cruise Ships
St Kitts Links
St Kitts Attractions: St Kitts Caribbean Scenic Railway
St Kitts Attractions: Brimstone Hill
St Kitts Attractions: Exploring Basseterre
St Kitts Attractions: Beaches
St Kitts Attractions: Romney Manor
St Kitts Attractions: Clay Villa Plantation
Brimstone Hill Fortress is a UNESCO World
Heritage Site and a national park. Leaving aside its
historical and architectural significance, it is worth a
visit just for its spectacular views.
The fortress sits atop a 6,000 year old volcanic done that rises 800 feet above sea level. Its sides are steep, almost vertical in places, and alternate between bare rock and lush tropical cover.
Seen from the sea, it is immediately apparent that
this is an important strategic location commanding all
that surrounds it. Accordingly, the British first began
to fortify the hill in 1690 and construction continued
intermittently for nearly a century.
Construction of the fortress was facilitated by the
proximity of useful building materials. The stone
walls were cut from the volcanic dome itself. The
mortar that holds the stones together came from
limestone that was displaced when the dome emerged
from the sea.
Nonetheless, given its height and the steepness of
the hill, designing and building the fort must have been
a Herculean task. The design was done by British
military engineers while the bulk of the construction
labor was done by African slaves.
In 1782, the fortress was besieged by 8,000 French
troops. Although the site seems as if it would be
naturally impregnable, the 1,000 defenders
surrendered after a month of siege.
When the British regained St. Kitts by treaty in
1783, they set to work strengthening and enhancing the
fortress. It came to be known as “the Gibraltar of the
West Indies” and was never captured again.
In the mid-19th Century, the British no longer
perceived a threat to St. Kitts and determined that its
troops would be better deployed elsewhere. As a
result, the fortress was abandoned and left to
By the 1960s, residents of St. Kitts had become
concerned about the state of the site and efforts were
begun to preserve and restore it. These efforts
eventually led to it being declared a national park and
a World Heritage site.
The fort is open every day except Christmas and
Good Friday from 9:30 to 5:30. There is a nominal
At the very top of the hill is the fortresses' ultimate defense position, The Citadel A polygonal shaped structure, its massive walls are surrounded by a dry moat dug into the peek.
On top of the battlements are numerous antique cannons. While inside the walls are administrative and storage facilities.
But what really makes the climb worthwhile are the views from the battlements. Not only are the views across St. Kitts coastal plain and the
sea to the nearby island of St. Eustatius and beyond spectacular, but the view from the back of the Citadel up the mountain valley isquite scenic.
For more about cruising to St. Kitts:
Click here for our overview of St Kitts
Click here for information on the St Kitts cruise port
Click here for photos of cruise ships in St Kitts
Click here for our review of the St Kitts Scenic Railway
Click here for St Kitts beaches
Click here for Romney Manor
Click here for our page on Clay Villa Plantation
Click here for a brief history of St. Kitts