5 Must-See Forts in Bermuda
Although it’s hard to imagine, Bermuda wasn’t always a
vacationer’s paradise. Throughout most of its history, the island was actually
a strategic naval centre that played an important role in a number of wars.
Once called the Gibraltar of the West, Bermuda’s proximity
to the young American nation made it an ideal spot for Britain to station
troops and arms during the American Revolution and the War of 1812, and it even
became the Royal Navy’s Western Atlantic headquarters for many years.
During the American Civil War, the Confederacy relied on
Bermuda as a checkpoint where British ships could evade the Union blockade and
deliver goods to the South. The island also served as an important naval base
during both World Wars.
It’s no surprise, then, that Bermuda is home to several historic
forts that still stand today. Have a look at five forts worth a visit as you
explore Bermuda’s rich history.
1. Fort Hamilton, Pembroke
Construction of this famous fort began in 1868, by order of
the Duke of Wellington. Originally intended to protect Hamilton Harbour from an
American invasion, the fort was already considered outdated before its
completion in the 1870s. Outfitted with a moat, underground passageways, and
18-ton guns, Fort Hamilton has since been transformed into a lovely park filled
with gardens. In summer, stop by at noon to watch the kilted Bermuda Isles Pipe
Band perform a traditional bagpiping, or skirling, ceremony.
2. Fort St. Catherine, St. George's Parish
The largest fort in
Bermuda, Fort St. Catherine towers above pink sand beaches, making it one of
the island’s most extraordinary attractions. Constructed in 1614, Fort St. Catherine underwent numerous upgrades
in the 19th century; today, its interior serves as a museum of Bermudian
3. Martello Tower, Ferry Reach, St. George's Parish
With walls as thick
as 11 feet, Martello Tower was built by the British to withstand potential
cannon fire from French or American forces. Restored in 2008, Martello looks
much as it did when it was built in the 1820s. It’s also Bermuda’s only
egg-shaped fort, closely resembling the design commonly found along the British
4. Royal Naval Dockyard, Sandys Parish
Although visitors to Bermuda may think of Dockyard as a
centre of arts, crafts, and dining, the complex was initially constructed by
the British Army’s Royal Engineers in the 1860s to protect against – well by
now, you might guess – an American invasion. Today, the Dockyard, and area
surrounding it, has become Bermuda’s top tourist attraction, housing the
Bermuda Maritime Museum, the Bermuda Craft Market, Bermuda Arts Centre, and
dozens of shops and restaurants.
5. Great Head Battery and Park, St. George's Parish
Located at Bermuda’s
easternmost point, the Great Head Battery on St. David’s Island offers stunning
views of the sea and St. George’s. Completed in 1910, the fort was designed to
defend the Narrows Channel. Coastal defence guns lined the fort, although none
were ever fired in combat. Today, the area is a 24-acre park that serves as a
memorial to Bermudian troops.
What is your favourite fort in Bermuda? What do you think
is the most fascinating era in Bermuda’s history? Tell us in the comment
6 February, 2012