Kingston, the capital city and cultural heart of Jamaica, is the biggest English-speaking city in the entire Caribbean region. Founded in 1962 after the erstwhile capital Port Royal was devastated by a massive earthquake, Kingston is presently home to world’s 7th largest natural harbor. It later became Jamaica’s capital in 1872.
Over the years, Kingston has transformed into a modern, sprawling, bustling city where life never ceases to stop. The city is presently home to a number of tourist attractions, which are sure to keep you captivated for a long time. It is therefore in the fitness of things to undertake a walking tour of this mini-Manhattan in the making.
The city is a pleasant mix of the old and new. You will discover apartment blocks and modern houses peacefully coexisting alongside the classic 18th century Georgian mansions and beautiful traditional gingerbread homes with their fretwork and elaborate balconies.
Venturing out to explore Kingston on a walking tour is an awesome experience in itself. The best way to begin your tour of the city on foot is by visiting the cruise ship piers facing the Ocean Boulevard. The city was a major port of call for the innumerable cruise ships, but they don’t come here now. This area between the Duke Street and Princess Street is historic. You will discover many interesting buildings here. The two main buildings – The Oceana and the main post office situated on Temple Lane – are worth visiting.
After spending some time here, now it is the time for you to visit the Kingston Mall. It is situated between the King Street and Princess Street. If you are in a mood for some window shopping, this is perfectly the best place in the city to visit. Now that you have enjoyed shopping, why not head to the National Art Gallery. This must-visit attraction is situated between the King Street and Orange Street. It is housed in the Roy West Building and is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. This place offers fascinating insight into Jamaica’s art history and showcases the exhibits of most talented artists hailing from this magnificent Caribbean nation. Renowned Jamaican singer Bob Marley’s fantastic bronze statue can be seen on the ground floor. As you head upstairs, you will be left speechless and spellbound on seeing the works of Jamaica’s artistic geniuses such as Mallico Reynolds, Colin Garland, Tina Matkovic, Edna Manley, Sidney McLaren, David Miller and John Dunkley. Consider visiting the National Art Gallery from December to January to see the annual exhibition prominently featuring the best artists of Jamaica.
Make your next stop at the Jamaica Conference Center to see its ultra-modern convention hall. It is situated off Ocean Boulevard between Duke Street and Church Street. It is open only on Thursday every week from 11 am to 2 pm. The souvenir shops, offices, gardens and on-site restaurants at the Jamaica Conference Centre can however be visited daily.
After paying a brief visit to the Jamaica Conference Center, now it is time for you to head to the headquarters of the Bank of Jamaica situated opposite the Duke Street. The building housing the bank is also home to the Coin and Notes Museum. It is open for public from 8.30 am to 2 pm five days a week, from Monday through Friday. You will get opportunity to see exhibits featuring the history of Jamaican paper money, coins and tokens.
The Institute of Jamaica is the next stop of your walking tour after visiting the Bank of Jamaica headquarters. Here’s how you can reach the institute. You first need to walk inland up Duke Street, take a right turn into Tower Street and continue walking just past the junction with East Street. And, there on your right is the famous Institute of Jamaica, which is renowned for its exclusive collection of historic documents about the Caribbean. After spending some time here, just visit the National Library next door. It is home to the largest collection of articles, books and prints in the West Indies.
The Institute of Jamaica building is also home to the Natural History Museum. It was previously known as the Science Museum. The Natural history Museum is Jamaica’s oldest museum. It showcases the exhibits of the preserved plants and animals found in Jamaica. The Herbarium at the museum is quite fascinating. Here dried plants are mostly stored. Over 125,000 specimens are found in the Herbarium, which is considered to be among the best in the whole Caribbean region. It can be visited from 8.30 am to 5 pm from Monday to Thursday.