St. Croix
Christiansted Afoot
Part 1
Exploring the island's main city.

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Time: 1-1/2 hours. Difficulty: 1. Trailhead: Fort Christiansvaern .

Most of the hotels and shopping are located in Christiansted, considered one of the Caribbean 's prettier ports, with a lingering Danish influence.

Several blocks along the waterfront are part of a 27-acre Christiansted National Historic District, including six historic buildings operated by the U.S. National Park Service. With its colonial buildings and open air restaurants, Christiansted is a joy to explore on foot.

1. Visitor's Bureau: Built in 1856 as the Old Scalehouse, this was the site of the huge scale which weighed all merchandise being imported into Christiansted. It was also where exports were inspected and where troops attached to the Customs Service were garrisoned. The scale is still present.

2. Old Danish Customs House: This is the first place the Danish captains would report to pay their customs fees. Part of the first floor was built in 1751, but most of the building was constructed between 1828-1830.

3. Fort Christiansvaern: This is the most outstanding building as you sail into the harbor, a bright yellow color the Danes seemed to favor. Begun in 1733 with yellow ballast-brick, the fort was partially destroyed by a hurricane and then rebuilt in 1837. It saw its last use by the military in 1878, then became a police station and courthouse. Fort Christiansvaern, the best preserved of the five Danish forts through the U.S. Virgin Islands, is restored to its 1830s incarnation and contains an exhibit of local military history. Dungeons, ramparts and old cannons are but a few of its features.

4. Old Danish West India and Guinea Company Warehouse: Located across Company Street and now the post office, this is the company that purchased St. Croix from France and turned it into a sugar cane factory. The building's history traces back to 1749 when it first housed provisions, offices and personnel. Slave auctions were held in the courtyard. After 1833, the Danish military used it as a depot, later a telegraph office.

5. The Steeple Building: Built as a Lutheran Church by the Danes in 1753, the steeple was added around 1794. After 1831, the Danish government turned the church into a military bakery, a hospital and a school. This prominent landmark is now a National Park Museum with archaeological, historical and architectural exhibits.

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