Bahamas

Pat Ford
Local Experts: Bahamas, Noelle Khalila Nicolls

By Local Expert Noelle Khalila Nicolls

Top 5 Historic Sites in Nassau in the Bahamas

1
Fort Charlotte

Fort Charlotte

The view of Nassau is one of Fort Charlotte’s best attributes. While standing on top of the imposing limestone structure, overlooking the waterless moat, dungeons, and draw-bridge, you can also watch cruise ships enter the harbor and imagine a time when pirate ships filled with looted gold or colonial vessels with Africans as cargo cruised in and out of the harbor. Fort Charlotte, which never fired a shot in battle, is the largest of the forts on the island. It has several interior rooms to explore and historical displays. If you’re a history buff, a guided tour might not do you justice. As a casual visitor the tour is quick, so it allows for time to roam independently. The overall experience will only set you back $3.

2
Rawson Square

Rawson Square

Two worlds collide at the adjoining Rawson Square and Parliament Square, central bearing points in downtown Nassau. Rawson Square houses a half body bronze bust of Sir Milo Butler, the first governor-general in an independent Bahamas. Directly opposite in Parliament Square there is a provocative full-bodied statue of Queen Victoria sitting on a throne. Queen Victoria is a symbol of the country’s violent colonial past and Sir Milo is a symbol of the country’s promise of a new beginning. These public gathering grounds are primarily used as pedestrian thoroughfares and backdrops for great photo opportunities, but their true significance is in their socio-political history, as sites of protest, politics and governance. 

3
Queen’s Staircase

Queen’s Staircase

In the late 1700s, enslaved Africans carved a gorge, more than 100 feet deep, into a solid limestone hillside with axes and other sharp hand tools. This passageway of 66 sloping steps provided a shorter route from Fort Fincastle to Nassau City, which was needed in case of an attack. The Fort Fincastle Historic Complex is a popular attraction, but the Queen’s Staircase is the most visited. Shady native trees, wall vines and overhanging brush create a moist rainforest like enclosure that make this landmark one of the most picturesque. Bahamians use the Queen’s Staircase as a multipurpose venue for morning exercise and unusual weddings. 

4
Pompey Square

Pompey Square

Pompey Square is a free-spirited social hub for local festivals, art shows, lounging and child’s play. There is an interactive water feature in the center of the square; surrounding it are restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and the Pompey Museum of Slavery and Emancipation. The history of the square goes back to the 1700s when enslaved Africans were auctioned at a marketplace in the colonial era building that houses the museum. Pompey was an African freedom fighter. On the last Friday of every month, the community organization Creative Nassau, which fights for the rights of folk artists, hosts an art village in the square filled with authentically made Bahamian products: ceramics, jewelry, handbags, paintings, and other crafts. 

5
Clifton Heritage Park

Clifton Heritage Park

For Nassau standards, the Clifton Heritage Land and Sea Park is way off the beaten path. It is not even accessible by public transportation. Nevertheless, it is easy to get to by taxi or through a tour operator. It is best to make it a day trip, as you can explore the winding nature trails and historical ruins, picnic on your choice of three secluded beaches, snorkel off shore over an underwater sculpture garden, walk through the Bahamian equivalent of the Ghanaian “Door of No Return” and meditate in a sacred circle that honors the ancestral mothers who slaved and endured on this former colonial plantation. 


Visit the Top 5 Historic Sites in Nassau in the Bahamas

Clifton Heritage Park
Bahamas
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Trail
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Pompey Square
Bahamas
6.2/10

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Museum
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Queen’s Staircase
Elizibeth Ave (Stands Ave),Nassau, New Providence District,Bahamas
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Scenic Lookout
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Rawson Square
West Bay Street (Parliament Street),Nassau, New Providence District,Bahamas
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Monument / Landmark
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Fort Charlotte
West Bay Street (opposite Arawak Cay),Nassau, New Providence District,Bahamas
7.7/10

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Scenic Lookout,Monument / Landmark
0
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