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History Of The Bahamas (HISTORICAL Places To Visit!)

The Bahamas, a country within the Lucayan Archipelago, is on the top of every beach-loving traveller’s bucket list (us included). Why? to put it simply, it’s a majestic beach paradise. There are only a few destinations that can genuinely rival the beauty of the Bahamas.

This time, however, we are seeking out all the history buffs because we are going on a different kind of adventure. In fact, we are going to travel through the history of the Bahamas, including some historical places to include in your Bahamas itinerary.

The Bahamas – Travel Through Time

Christopher Colombus

The Original Inhabitants (300 – 400 AD)

Yes, we are looking all the way back to the obsolete times, when voyagers came from a faraway land – now known as Cuba. The early settlers made the more resource-filled islands their homes and continued to inhabit them while relying on the ocean and tropical lands for their basic everyday needs.

As time went on, the inhabitants of the Bahama islands became known as the Lucayan people (900 -1500 AD)– the original residents before European invasions took over the islands.

The Arrival of Columbus (1492)

Setting off to the times when Columbus and his fleet of men set foot in the Bahamas uninvited. He called these lands Bajar Mar, which translates to shallow waters, which went on to become the official name of the islands all the way up to now.

When Columbus set foot, there were about 40,000 Lucayan people peacefully living. Because of their innocent nature, they soon fell victim to Columbus’s cruel slavery.

The Bahamas’ Key role in the Age of Piracy (1600 – 1700)

If you’re obsessed with pirates – this is the age to dive into. And some of the most iconic pirate personalities were alive during this time in the Bahamas. We are talking about Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, Mary Read and Calico Jack. The sea lanes were perfect for jumping merchant ships, and the islands were great for hiding treasures. Some of these islands were even burial grounds for notorious pirates that ruled the sea. How epic!

The Effects of the American Civil War and Prohibition (1800 – 1900)

After the continued struggle between pirates and military troops from Spain, the British invaded the islands of the Bahamas. The country experienced a significant change as the U.S civil war raged on, and the British textile industry became heavily dependent on the Bahamas for cotton.

This was a prosperous time, but the Prohibition of Alcohol in 1919 in the United States brought great devastation to the country.

Freedom and Independence of the Bahamas (1973)

The Bahamas was given a chance to open its doors to the world in 1898 as the Hotel and Steam Ship Service Act came into play. Tourism began to take form and shape the country gradually, leading up to July 10th 1973 – the day the Bahamas took back their freedom as a sovereign nation.

Click here to discover more intriguing facts about the Bahamas

Significant Historical Events that Took Place in the Bahamas

  • 1834 – The Emancipation of Slaves, one of the most highlighted historical dates, is celebrated to this day in the Bahamas.
  • 1940 to 1945 – The Duke of Windsor/ King Edward VIII served as the governor of the Bahamas
  • 1955 – Free Trade is established in Freeport Town, helping tourism take seed in the land.  
  • 1964 – The Bahamas was granted Internal Autonomy.
  • 1967 – Lynden Pindling, more famously known as the “Father of the Nation” by the people of Bahamas, became the Prime Minister after winning as the Ruling party during the country’s first legislative elections.
  • 1972 – The Bahamas begins its negotiations with Britain over its independence.
  • 1973 – the Bahamas gain their Independence
  • 1992 – After Pindling’s 25 years of Rule, the people of the Bahamas choose Hubert Ingraham to be the prime minister.
  • 1993 – The Bahamas celebrated its 20th Year as an Independent Nation
  • 1998 – The Caribbean Travel Organization and the Ministry of Tourism named the Bahamas – “The Most Popular Destination Among All Caribbean Islands.
  • 2000 – Lynden Pindling – the “Father of Independence’ passes away.
  • 2001 – The Bahamas has their first woman governor-general, Dame Ivy Dumont.

Fascinating Historical Places to Visit in the Bahamas

The Queens Staircase

Queens Staircase Nassau

Built in 1794, this lengthy staircase can be found in Nassau. It was built using limestone rock and slave labour to honour the long reign of Queen Victoria. You can climb up the narrow 65 steps to reach the peak of Bennet’s Hill, where our next historical attraction awaits.

Fort Fincastle, Nassau

Fort Fincastle

Standing on top of Bennet’s Hill, you’ll find this historic, stoic, and rigid fort structure. It was built in 1793, by Viscount Fincastle, for protection from pirate attacks. Given its location, the fort is allowed an incredible view of the whole of New Providence, and you can truly enjoy the remaining ancient treasures, whispering of a bygone era.

Fort Charlotte

Fort Charlotte with hoisted Bahamas Flag

This fort was built in 1789 and named after Queen Charlotte. The amusing thing is, despite its largeness the fort has never witnessed a battle. However, if you love exploring old underground tunnels and dungeons and learning about their history – this is just the place.   

The Parliament Square

Parliament Square Front View

Parliament square is rich in history and beauty. This consists of The House of Assembly, the Senate building and the Parliament building. The iconic pink building with giant white columns and neoclassical architecture carries a century’s worth of stories and significant historical events in the Bahamas.

No matter where you start your history adventure tour, we suggest this place as where you should end it. The final stop. The grand finish.

The Elbow Reef Lighthouse, Abaco

Abaco Lighthouse from afar

This lighthouse was built in 1864 and still working today! There are approximately 101 steps to climb to get to the top which is at a height of nearly 89 feet. This horizontal red striped tower is definitely a thing to see from a distance. It’s more than a relic – it’s an iconic monument, an active example of the genius of British engineering in the 1800s.

Frequently Asked Questions on Historical Places in the Bahamas

Do you Need to Purchase Entrance tickets to Visit Fort Charlotte?

Yes – the entrance fee charge is around 5 Bahamian Dollars (BDS) per person. There’s parking available too.

Do you Need to Purchase Entrance tickets to Visit Fort Fincastle?

Yes – the entrance fee charge is around 1 BDS per person.

Do you Need to Purchase Entrance tickets to Climb to the Top of the Elbow Reef Lighthouse?

No, it’s actually free!

What are the Opening Times of Fort Fincastle?

There are daily guided tours at Fort Fincastle from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Can you Arrange a Tour to Visit the Parliament Building?

Tourists aren’t permitted inside the buildings. Most tours take place on the parliament grounds or square.