St. Eustatius Sights

Oranjestad

  • Historic District/Site
  • Fodor's Choice

Published 10/04/2016

Fodor's Review

Statia's only town sits on the west coast facing the Caribbean. Both Upper Town—with cobblestone streets that designate its historic section—and Lower Town are easy to explore on foot.

Ft. Oranje. Three bastions have clung to these cliffs since 1636. In 1976, Statia participated in the U.S. bicentennial celebration by restoring the fort, and now the black cannons extend beyond the ramparts. In the parade grounds a plaque, presented in 1939 by Franklin D. Roosevelt, reads "Here the sovereignty of the United States of America was first formally acknowledged to a national vessel by a foreign official."

Built in 1755, the partially restored Dutch Reformed Church, on Kerkweg (Church Way), has lovely stone arches that face the sea. Ancient tales can be read on the gravestones in the adjacent 18th-century cemetery, where people were often buried atop one another.

On Synagogepad (Synagogue Path) off Kerkweg is Honen Dalim ("She Who Is Charitable to the Poor"), the second-oldest

synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. Dating from 1738, it has a partially restored exterior, an oven for baking Passover matzah, and a ritual bath. A short walk away is the Jewish cemetery with impressive marble stones from the same time period.

Lower Town sits below the Fort and some steep cliffs. It is accessible from Upper Town on foot via the zigzagging, cobblestone Bay Path or by car via Van Tonningenweg. Warehouses and shops that were piled high with European imports in the 18th century are either abandoned now or simply used to store local fishermen's equipment. Some of them have been restored and now hold two hotels, dive shops, and the Mazinga-on-the-Bay Gift Shop.

Along the waterfront is a lovely park with palms, flowering shrubs, and benches—the work of the historical foundation. Peeking out from the shallow waters are the crumbling ruins of 18th-century buildings, reminders of Statia's days as the merchant hub of the Caribbean. Near to the shore, a reef, once strengthened to form a seawall, provides a convenient location for fascinating snorkeling.

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Sight Information

Address:

Oranjestad, n/a St. Eustatius, St. Eustatius

Published 10/04/2016

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