Things to do in
Castries, St. Lucia

Most of the sites are near the waterfront and around Columbus Square.

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Attractions Castries, St. Lucia

By 1838, when the British decreed an end to slavery, more than 90% of St. Lucia 's population was of African descent. That still holds true today of the estimated 156,000 inhabitants, about 60,000 of whom live in Castries.

Yet in spirit the island is influenced by many cultures. Perhaps the Catholic cathedral in Castries best illustrates how the English, French and African cultures have blended so well together.

Inside the stone building of French design, the services are delivered in English. The cathedral interior itself is richly painted in bright African-inspired colors, and the Madonna and child are portrayed as black. It all fits perfectly. It's St. Lucia .

Unquestionably, the true allure of St. Lucia is the beauty of its countryside, not its cities. Castries , St. Lucia 's bustling capital city, has few buildings of interest, despite its almost 200-year history.

The city was destroyed by fire in 1927 and then again in 1948. Yet that doesn't quite explain its clapboard appearance, which many find unattractive.

The few buildings of historical importance are around Derek Walcott Square, formerly Columbus Square. The traditional town center,it contains busts of St. Lucia's two Nobel Prize laureates, Walcott and Sir Arthur Lewis, were recently added. The huge saman or rain tree here is over 400 years old.

Bordering Walcott Square is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, visited by Pope John Paul II in 1986. The ceiling contains the painting of many saints, with St. Lucie prominently in the middle. the Catholic cathedral,

A good stop for low priced souvenirs such as pottery, wood carvings, hand woven straw items and spice baskets is the Castries craft market located near the waterfront. Across the street from the craft market is the vendor's market.

It specializes in T-shirts, leather goods and locally-made jewelry. For those wanting to take home a lasting taste of St. Lucia, the best shopping stop is any local supermarket to stock up on the hot sauces, spices and condiments produced by Baron Foods and Viking Traders. Both have won numerous awards locally and abroad.

Bounty Rum, called the Spirit of St. Lucia, is locally produced at a distillery in Roseau just south of Castries. The distillery now offers a 12-year old rum that is a limited edition; called Admiral Rodney. A tasting session is part of the distillery tour.

As a regular stop on many Caribbean cruise itineraries, Castries has two large duty free shopping centers, Pointe Seraphine and La Place Carenage. When a cruise ship is in port on a Sunday, the duty free centers will be open when all other stores are closed. Perhaps the most famous locally-produced items comes from Bagshaws, which makes clothing and household items using original silk-screen print designs.

Other good local labels are Islanders, noted for its high quality casual wear, and Caribbean Perfumes, which creates tropical scents from fruits, flowers, woods and spices.

Morne Fortune, meaning ?Hill of Good Luck,? is a er 17th century outpost offering an excellent overview of the city. Once a key battleground between the French and British, it contains a military cemetery, a small museum, the old powder magazine, and the "Four Apostles Battery," a quartet of cannons.

The most important building is Government House, the official residence of the governor-general. It is one of the few Victorian structures to survive the last great fire.

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