A Glimpse of Jamaica's History Through the Ages in its Heritage Sites
Updated: Dec 18, 2021
Jamaica Attractions, Jamaican Culture, Jamaican History, Jamaican People, Jamaican Lifestyle, Jamaican Heritage, Famous Jamaicans
Our Jamaican heritage is a patchwork of different cultures that have influenced the nation over several eras. In Jamaica, one can find little-known stories of black wealth to victorious slave revolts during the colonial era. There are many historical sites in Jamaica that offer an insightful look into its past and how these events helped to shape present-day Jamaica.
The Jamaica National Heritage Trust has been entrusted with the task of ensuring that physical structures that attest to landmark events in our nation's history are protected and available to this generation and those to come. Here is a selection of seven national heritage sites in Jamaica to visit:
1. National Heroes Park
The area on which the National Heroes Park now stands was once one of the most popular spots in Kingston. For 101 years, the land was the centre for horse racing in Jamaica. It was also the site for other sporting activities such as cricket and cycle racing. Being a place where people naturally gathered, the area was also the venue for travelling circuses that visited the island from time to time.
In 1818, the Kingston Council purchased the property for £985 and 10 shillings. Back then it was part of a property called Montgomery Pen. It was later known as the Kingston Race Course because of its dominant activity and remained so until 1953 when horse racing was transferred to Knutsford Park.
The site was officially renamed the National Heroes Park in 1973 and is now a permanent place for honouring our heroes whose monuments are erected in an area known as the Shrine.
Another section, reserved for prime ministers and outstanding patriots, adjoins the Shrine area, to the north.
2. Milk River Spa
Milk River, Clarendon
Milk River Bath is not only another of Jamaica’s great spas, but is counted among the best natural spas in the world. The radioactivity of the water is many times greater than many of the world’s famous spas. The relative radioactivity of the water has been found to be:
• 9 times as active as Bath, England • 50 times as active as Vichy, France • 5 times as active as Karlsbad, Austria • 54 times as active as Baden, Switzerland
The Spa is located about ten (10) miles south of May Pen, Clarendon, and is open to the public.
3. Devon House
26 Hope Rd, Kingston, Jamaica
Built in 1891, the majestic Devon House is the former home of Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel. In those times, the Georgian-style great house and 19th-century antique furnishings were a rare symbol of black wealth.
Having gained his wealth from gold mining in South America, Stiebel was among three wealthy Jamaicans who constructed elaborate homes during the late 19th century at the corner of Trafalgar Road and Hope Road. This corner fittingly became known as the Millionaire’s Corner.
The Mansion overlooks a vast expanse of perfectly manicured and lush, green lawns. Stiebel’s legacy lives on with the beautifully maintained Devon House, which was declared a national monument in 1990 by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust. This was done under the instructions of the Rt. Hon. Edward Seaga, who was then Minister of Development and Welfare with responsibility for cultural affairs, and later Prime Minister of Jamaica.
Devon House has since evolved from being home of Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel, to being synonymous with fun, family entertainment and recreation in Kingston, where guests can tour, shop, dine and relax. Today, the property spans 11 acres and is the home of the world famous Devon House ice cream, which was named by the National Geographic as among the top ten ice creams in the world.