Cory and I went into downtown today during a 3 hour break he had at school. I needed to apply to extend my visa so they wouldn't deport me for staying longer than I was allowed! Since we haven't spent much time in the downtown area other than running quick errands, we decided to explore a bit.
The large building with the domed top is the old Treasury building. Long ago, when ships pulled into port at St. Kitts, the archway of the Treasury building was how all arriving visitors would enter Basseterre. It used to be on the waterfront, but major construction has extended the land behind it further out into the sea. Port Zante is what now occupies this new waterfront, and includes a deep sea port for cruise ships, a marina, parking, and many new shops. Instead of destroying the historic Treasury building, it has become the St. Kitts and Nevis National Museum.
A few blocks away from the Treasury building is Independence Square, a large park in the middle of all the bustle of downtown. The park was actually built in 1790 for slave auctions and council meetings. Today, it has a much brighter purpose: It was renamed "Independence Square" to commemorate the independence of the island Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis from Great Britain.
The fountain and cathedral in these pictures can be seen in most postcards and pictures of Independence Square. The square is also home to the courthouse, and most of Basseterre's historic buildings.
Probably the most recognized and well known area of Basseterre is the Circus. The cenerpiece of the Circus is a roundabout with a giant green clock in the middle, modeled after the famous Piccadilly Circus in London, shown below:
Ummmmmm, yeah....I don't know if I see much of a similarity, but whatever. I guess it's the thought that counts. The clock in the middle is pretty impressive, and quite large. The Circus is the main taxi hub, so a lot of the taxi drivers sit on the clock and holler at everyone walking by, asking if you need a ride.
And finally, this picture is from our drive back home from downtown. We live quite close to downtown, so the drive home was only about 5 minutes. But if you take Bay Road, you get to drive right along the shore of Basseterre Bay. Very pretty with the sailboat sitting out in the water.
Oh yeah, and one more thing about Basseterre. The city outbid every other country, even the United States, to host some key matches for the 2007 World Cricket Cup. The number one team in the world, Australia, is playing here! This is going to be HUUUUGE. Not only will there be an estimated 2 billion people watching worldwide, but there are way more people coming here to watch than there are hotel rooms to accomodate them! Seriously, DO NOT come visit us during this tournament....it is going to be crazy! (Oh yeah, the dates are March 13-26th).