Queen's Staircase, Nassau
Carved out of the Nassau Bedrock, this impressive structure leading to Fort Fincastle orginally had 66 stairs, but now there are only 65. At the top is the water tower and fort, at the bottom is an astounding view of the tiers and some vendors awaiting a good bargain.
On the way to the Water Tower and Fort Fincastle, take Elizabeth Ave which is a passage through a 90 foot deep gorge. The passageway was cut from solid limestone by slaves, beginning in the 1790's, with the intent of constructing a roadway through Prospect Ridge. The passageway features seats in cool shade and is nice to stop by on your way through. At the end is the Queen's Staircase which features 66 steps up out of the gorge.
The Queen's is one of the top attractions of Nassau and its... well - a staircase. A staircase of 65 steep steps carved into limestone by slaves in the 18th century. The staircase is not clearly visible from the street, but when you reach the parking lot under fort Fincastle, keep to the left towards the tiny green wooden shed, and past there you'll come to it.
There's a reason behind the number of steps - and the name: 65 were the numbers of years that Queen Victoria had reigned. There's also a reason why it is so hidden away. It was to provide British troops a protected route to Fort Fincastle.
The Queen's staircase is named after Queen Victoria who is revered in the Bahamas. The canyon there was created as stone was quarried for things like the fort that was built up the hill from it. The staircase was hand carved by the slaves that quarried the stone to get it up the hill to the fort as it was constructed. The stairs are now faced with brick to make them more stable and protect them from the wear and tear of countless feet, so you can't actually see the part of the stairs that were carved out.
I loved the look and feel of this place, descending into the cool, shady, narrow stone space with trees and plants softening and greening the weathered walls. Our tour bus met us at the bottom, so we had the easy climb down without having to return. There are people selling stuff at the fort and all along the bottom of the canyon. Our guide suggested we buy from the straw market and the port market if we wanted to find some native handicrafts instead of imports from China.