St Thomas US Virgin Islands Pirates Duty Free Shopping St Thomas US Virgin Islands Duty Free Shopping Pirates Blackbeard History

St. Thomas
U.S. Virgin Islands
Part 2

Pirates turned St. Thomas
into a duty free port.

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Thanks to pirates and the plunder they traded here, St. Thomas became a great port city.

The Danes declared it a freeport in 1724, and nothing has changed except today things are imported legally. You can still find a "steal"--that is, a bargain--compared to the price-plus-tax elsewhere.

As a freeport, Tap Hus under the Danes became a very rich city. As such, the place required a more respectable name than Rum Shop, so in 1730, Tap Hus was renamed Charlotte Amalie, after the wife of Danish King Christian V.

A small fortification called Fort Skytsborg has been turned into a landmark hotel, Blackbeard's Castle. The five-story tower supposedly is the "oldest extant historical structure in the Virgin Islands." Pirates, including the infamous Blackbeard, reputedly used it for a lookout tower.

If the stories about Blackbeard are to be believed, he was as much a freak show as a swashbuckler. He's said to have gone into battle after these preparations: braiding his long black beard, tying the tails of it around his ears and putting lighted candles in his hair. It's hard to imagine anyone running across decks or swinging from sail hausers with burning candles on his head--without the candles falling over and setting his hair ablaze.

Another version has him wearing lighted fuses, not candles. Now, that would have been an interesting sight, indeed: the sputtering ends looking like snakes gone wild. This is the way I prefer to picture Blackbeard, as a demonic Medusa and not as a rum-belching Christmas tree.

Blackbeard is said to have married (very formal, for a pirate) 14 different women, killing them when he tired of their charms.

What message is there that Blackbeard's Castle houses the hotel's bridal suites?

Charlotte Amalie Walking Tour

Today's Weather in St. Thomas Currrent conditions and 10-day forecast.

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