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St. Eustatius Sights

Oranjestad

  • Historic District/Site
  • Fodor's Choice

Updated 03/10/2015

Fodor's Review

Statia's only town, Oranjestad 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 1775, 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"), one of the Caribbean's oldest synagogues. Dating from 1738, it has a partially restored exterior.

Lower Town sits below Fort Oranjestraat (Fort Orange Street) and some steep cliffs. It is accessible from Upper Town on foot via the zigzagging, cobblestone Fort Road or by car via Van Tonningenweg. Warehouses and shops that were piled high with European imports in the 18th century are either abandoned or simply used to store local fishermen's equipment. One of them has been restored and now holds 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. The sea has slowly advanced since then, and it now surrounds many of the stone-and-brick ruins, making for fascinating snorkeling.

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Sight Information

Address:

Oranjestad, St. Eustatius

Updated 03/10/2015

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