Founded in 1692, Kingston was first a place for the survivors of an earthquake that resulted in the destruction of Port Royal. Before that date, Kingston was an agricultural area, but the survivors of the earthquake established their tent community on the sea front. The town really began to grow after pirates did further destruction and burned Port Royal in 1703. By 1703, Kingston had become the biggest town on the island and a center of trade. It is the largest English-speaking city in Jamaica and the nation’s capital. Central Kingston comprises the historic downtown area and New Kingston, both reached by Norman Manley International Airport.
1) Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains are the longest mountain range on the island and include its highest point, Blue Mountain Peak, which is 7,402 feet high. Visitors to the peak have excellent views of both the north and south coasts of Jamaica, and on clear days, it is possible to see Cuba some 130 miles away. Birdwatchers, hikers, and botanists are attracted to the area, as are coffee lovers, for the Blue Mountains are home to Jamaica’s Blue Mountain coffee, considered some of the best coffee in the world.
2) Devon House
Devon House is an important national monument and represents the island’s cultural diversity. It receives thousands of visitors every year who come to see its lush 11-acre lawns and learn about Jamaican history. Devon House was constructed in the 19th century for George Stiebel, Jamaica’s first black millionaire, although some buildings on the property are thought to predate Stiebel’s house. Devon House is a popular place for ice cream lovers too and offers 27 natural flavors of ice cream, including coconut coffee, sour sop, and Devon stout.
3) Port Royal
Located at the mouth of Kingston’s harbor, Port Royal was founded in 1518 and acted as shipping center for the Caribbean region it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1692. It was once known as the richest and wickedest city in the world and was home to generations of pirates who plundered silks and gold from Spanish ships. Edward Teach, the pirate known as “Blackbeard,” and once lived in Port Royal. The old pirate haunts have now been transformed into museums, and the area is served by cruise ships. Major archaeological findings are also on display here, and Fort Charles represents another tourist attraction.
4) Emancipation Park
The park was designed by architect Kamau Kambui to provide the maximum freedom of movement in keeping with its emancipation theme. It was first opened to the public in 2002 and has become a premier landmark in the Kingston area, providing a green oasis in the middle of the city. The park features three beautiful water fountains, excellent examples of stonework, and lush gardens for the enjoyment of visitors. The entire park is constructed as a symbolic representation of Jamaica’s journey to freedom
5) National Gallery
The National Gallery houses the leading art collection in Jamaica. It features a number of important art works, chiefly by Jamaican artists such as Cecil Baugh, Carl Abrahams, and Edna Manley, with special emphasis on her sculptures. Works by international artists are also exhibited, as are traveling exhibitions. It specializes in Jamaican art dating from 1920 to the present day.
6) National Heroes Park
Located on what was once a popular horse-racing center and an area for celebrating various events, including Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, National Heroes Park was officially so designated in 1973. It is now a permanent place for honoring national heroes with monuments established in an area known as The Shrine. This botanical garden spot is also the burial place of many of the nation’s Prime Ministers. Marcus Garvey and Norman Manley are also honored here, and the park is the venue for concerts and other events throughout the year.
7) Bob Marley Museum
The museum is located on the site of Bob Marley’s home, in which the legendary reggae musician lived from 1975 until his death in 1981, and it was also the location of the Tuff Gong recording studio. The home was converted to a museum in 1987 to display Marley’s personal items, including his guitar. On a guided tour, visitors can see a medicinal herb garden, press clippings about Marley, his stage costumes, photo gallery, and bullet holes in the walls from a failed assassination attempt on Marley.
8) Trench Town Culture Yard Museum
This attraction first opened in 2000 in tribute to Bob Marley’s childhood home and the community where he learned to play the guitar and where he wrote many of his songs. The museum features the remains of Marley’s Volkswagen van, photos, documents, and other artifacts illustrating the area’s history. Trench Town was the origin of many important reggae bands, including the Wailers, the Heptones, and the Abyssinians.
9) Mavis Bank Coffee Factory
This is the largest and only completely integrated Blue Mountain coffee facility in Jamaica. It was founded in 1923 on five acres of land. Every year, some 1.4 million pounds of coffee beans from more than 6,000 farmers are processed in this factory. More than 70 percent of the coffee from the factory is exported. Visitors can take a tour that shows the entire processing operation, giving them a new appreciation of Jamaica’s coffee industry.
10) Institute of Jamaica
The Institute is designed to increase awareness of Jamaica’s cultural and scientific heritage. It features the nation’s most important exhibits in the areas of natural history, cultural history, and art. It comprises the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica /Jamaica Memory Bank (ACIJ/JMB), Jamaica Music Museum (JAMM), Liberty Hall: The Legacy of Marcus Garvey, Museums of History and Ethnography, National Gallery of Jamaica and the Natural History Museum of Jamaica.