Exploring the Enchanting History of St. Thomas, USVI: A Journey through Time

Embarking on a voyage to the stunning island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands is not only an opportunity to bask in the beauty of its turquoise waters and pristine beaches but also to delve into its rich and captivating history. From its fascinating past as a colonial outpost to its present-day status as a United States territory, St. Thomas has a story that enthralls both locals and visitors alike.

#1

Founding and the Capital

St. Thomas was discovered by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage to the New World in 1493. However, it wasn’t until 1666 that the island was formally settled by the Danish West India Company, led by Danish governor Peter von Scholten. The company established the town of Taphus, which would later become known as Charlotte Amalie, named after the Danish queen at the time. Charlotte Amalie remains the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands to this day.

#2

Becoming the USVI

The United States acquired the U.S. Virgin Islands, including St. Thomas, from Denmark through the Treaty of the Danish West Indies in 1917. This strategic acquisition served as a means to protect American interests during World War I. The transfer to the United States marked a significant turning point in the island’s history, with its inhabitants becoming U.S. citizens and the islands being governed as an unincorporated territory.

#3

Impact on Islanders and the USA

For the islanders of St. Thomas, becoming part of the USVI meant gaining the advantages and privileges of U.S. citizenship, including access to federal funding, social security benefits, and the ability to vote in presidential elections. It also opened up new economic opportunities, such as increased tourism and trade with the United States. Additionally, the U.S. presence has provided stability and security, making the USVI an attractive destination for investment and business ventures.

#4

Historical Sites

#5

Blackbeard’s Castle

Towering above Charlotte Amalie, Blackbeard’s Castle is a historic landmark that has witnessed centuries of intrigue and maritime tales. This 17th-century watchtower was named after the infamous pirate, Blackbeard, though he never actually occupied the site. Visitors can explore the castle’s museum, admire the panoramic views, and discover the island’s pirate legends.

Blackbeard's Castle

Accessibility: Yes

Address: 1001 Blackbeard’s Hill, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI

Phone: +1 (340) 776-1234

Website: http://www.blackbeardscastle.com/

#6

Fort Christian

Situated in downtown Charlotte Amalie, Fort Christian is the oldest standing structure in the US Virgin Islands. Built in 1672, the fort served as a defense against pirates and enemy forces. Today, it houses the Virgin Islands Museum, showcasing the island’s history and culture through exhibits and artifacts.

Accessibility: Yes

Address: Veterans Dr, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI

Phone: +1 (340) 776-1234

Website :  www.visitstthomas.com/fort-christian

#7

Government House

Overlooking the Charlotte Amalie harbor, Government House is the official residence of the Governor of the US Virgin Islands. The beautiful neoclassical-style building dates back to the late 19th century and offers a glimpse into the island’s colonial past.

Accessibility: Limited access to public areas

Address: Kongens Gade, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI

Phone: +1 (340) 774-0001

#8

99 Steps

Located in Charlotte Amalie, the iconic 99 Steps is a staircase composed of bricks and volcanic stones that lead to the top of Government Hill. Built in the mid-18th century, these steps were originally constructed to provide access to the town from the harbor. Climbing the steps rewards visitors with picturesque views of the town and the Caribbean Sea.

Accessibility: Yes

Address: 1 Blackbeard’s Hill, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI

#9

Special Symbols, Food, Drinks, and Jewelry

Symbol

Look for the “Vitrine” symbol, an intricate silver design representing the blending of Danish and African cultures, commonly found in local crafts and jewelry.

Food

Indulge in “pate,” a delicious pastry filled with various fillings, such as spiced meat or saltfish, representing the island’s culinary heritage.

Drink

Try “bush tea,” a traditional herbal infusion made from local herbs and plants, known for its medicinal properties and soothing flavors.

Jewelry

Seek out “Crucian bracelets,” distinctive bangles crafted from recycled metals and featuring intricate engravings, representing the resilience and creativity of the local people.

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#10

Virgin Islands Retreats Self-Guided Tour

Explore Charlotte Amalie
  • Visit Fort Christian and the Virgin Islands Museum
  • Wander through the historic streets of Charlotte Amalie, admiring the Danish architecture
  • Enjoy a sunset cocktail overlooking the harbor
Historic Sites and Island Beauty
  • Discover Blackbeard’s Castle and its captivating tales
  • Take a guided tour of St. Thomas Synagogue
  • Relax on the picturesque beaches of Magens Bay
Cultural Immersion
  • Visit the bustling Market Square for a taste of local life
  • Explore the Caribbean History and Culture Center for a deeper understanding of the island’s heritage
  • Take a scenic drive to Drake’s Seat for breathtaking views

St. Thomas, with its captivating history and breathtaking beauty, offers travelers a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in a rich cultural tapestry. From its colonial past to its status as a U.S. territory, the island’s evolution has shaped the lives of its inhabitants and created a vibrant blend of cultures. Whether strolling through historic streets, indulging in local delicacies, or marveling at architectural treasures, a journey to St. Thomas promises a captivating experience for history enthusiasts and travelers seeking a deeper connection to the past.

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