Antigua and Barbuda is a sovereign island nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, making it one of the most luxurious and visually impressive holidays for UK holidaymakers. But did you know the island is more than just fresh sand, crystal clear sea, and a place to unwind? It’s actually an island steeped in history and revered the world over for its historical connections predating the 17th century all the way through to European Colonization from 1632 until their eventual independence from the UK in 1981. So, what can you see and learn about during Antigua holidays today?
The Museum Of Antigua And Barbuda
Any holidaymaker interested in the history of the island needs to head to the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, located in St. John’s. First founded in 1985, the museum documents the island’s history from as far back as the Archaic period. Dates for this period are variable, but it is generally viewed as between 8500 BC to the first few centuries AD. Now whilst exact dates are unknown, archaic tools are on display at the Museum showing how rich and far-reaching the island’s history is.
Interestingly enough, the building that the Museum is now housed in dates back to 1750, so simply by visiting you are getting a better understanding of Western influences on the town of St John’s from this time. There is a fascinating exhibition in the Museum detailing more about the construction of St John’s Courthouse (the home of the Museum today) and its architect Peter Harrison (well known for fine buildings in the United States and West Indies around this time), which is definitely worth visiting.
There are many more exhibitions in the Museum which will take you through more of the island’s history, so we won’t spoil anything else here.
Independence From The UK
Given that the island only gained independence from the UK as recently as 1981, there are many influences on the island from the UK that are evident just by visiting the local towns. Everything from the architecture to the systems in place to govern the island all have a UK ‘feel’ about them. But that’s not to say that Antigua holidays are a home away from home: it’s far from it. The island is rich in a culture of their own, and investigating the history of their culture is a fascinating one. The UK colonized it, but the story isn’t one of culture destroyed, but one of culture enduring. Despite colonization, island traditions, island culture, and island ways of life prevailed, and all of it is visible as you explore the island.
Island Historical And Cultural Tours
Some people don’t like to put themselves out there on holiday to explore the local area on their own, and that’s perfectly understandable. Which is why you ought to check out the local historical and cultural tours that are on offer in Antigua. Many will take you around the key historical sites (such as Betty’s Hope – a former sugar plantation that was key to the island’s history for 300 years) and help you immerse yourself in the culture of Antigua (with the introduction to the Antiguan black pineapple and other local fruits and drinks). Besides this, you can expect to see Devil’s Bridge, a natural bridge created by the Atlantic’s waves against the coastline. There are also tour guides that will take you through local villages for a look at the real Antigua, and some that will take you to the ruins of the 18th Century English Guard Post, Shirley Heights, which offers stunning views of English Harbour and other islands nearby.
The point is, that there are plenty of historical tours available for you to enjoy when you’ve finished relaxing by the beach, and most of them are only for half a day, so you can get right back to sipping a cocktail on the white sandy beaches as soon as you’re done. So why not give them a go and learn something new?
Why Exploring The Island’s History Is So Important
There’s a temptation when visiting any luxury island like Antigua to forget that it is far more than just a stunning place to relax. Which is why UK holidaymakers should make more of an effort to ensure that they immerse themselves in history and culture, because it broadens all of our horizons, and we don’t think there’s a better place to start than Antigua and Barbuda!