Colonial City Architecture
The capital, St. John's, is said to have very picturesque brightly coloured buildings, and colonial architecture. Colonial architecture means different things in different places. For a city in South America, Colonial Architecture is Spanish. For an English colony like St. John's it means Georgian or other English type buildings. But the local buildings that were not official buildings are of the Victorian or Bahamian wooden gingerbread buildings.
The lively capital of a tiny nation
Apart from the capitals of the larger island nations, like Kingston or Havana, most of the carribbean capitals are somewhere between provincial and tourist-spoiled. St. John's is no exception - a lively small capital with some large cruise ship casting its shadow over the city. Fortunately, the traces of tourism industry are almost only limited to the area around heritage quay. In the rest of the island, you won't find many traces of globalization. Supermarkets are privately owned and I haven't seen chains like Wal-Mart. Fast Food restaurants are found on the island, but surely not as many as on Aruba, for example. For example, I have seen only a single KFC in St. John's. St. John's is the center of Antigua's everyday life, the seat of the government and indeed, a nice place to be.
St. John's is not a place of big sights, no world-class city like New York, but that doesn't mean that you will be bored here. Stroll rough the colourful streets and have a meal at a local restaurant (I mean those tiny ones where you rarely have more than two dishes for choice). Have a look at the island's history by visiting the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, have a look at St. John's cathedral and see how everyday life looks like by going to the market, for example. For me, the colourful life of St. John's was surely one of the main impressions I brought back from Antigua.
If someone has visited more than one of my pages (Hello Mariajoy :) ), you may have noticed the usual facts and figures chapter. So, here it is again: St. John's was founded in 1632, when the island was colonized by teh English. It is not the oldest european settlement (that's Parham, around 5 kms east to St. John's), but it quickly grew into the largest. In 1706, Fort James was erected to protect the island from pirates and vessels of other nations. Fortunately, Fort James and St. John's never went into serious combat.
When Antigua and Barbuda declared independence in 1981, the St. John's became the capital of the new-born nation. Today, it has around 25 000 inhabitants, making it the largest settlement in Antigua.