Founded in 1494 by the Spanish, it was once the largest city in the Caribbean, functioning as the centre of shipping and commerce in the Caribbean Sea by the latter half of the 17th century. One of the most iconic harbours in the Caribbean – Port Royal on the south coast of Jamaica near Kingston – is a historic site that includes a sunken city dating back to 1692. Admiral Lord Nelson and Benbow, the chilling "Blackbeard" Teach, were among its inhabitants. The city's wealth was so great that coins were preferred for payment over the more common system of bartering goods for services. [10] They used to buy a pipe of wine, place it in the street, and oblige everyone that passed to drink. The adjacent Port Admiral's (later Commodore's) House included a watch tower, to counter the threat of privateers. Port Royal became a haven for some of the most famous pirates in history, including Blackbeard and Calico Jack. Once called "the richest and wickest city in the world", Port Royal was also the virtual capital of Jamaica. Recommended spots to visit include Fort Charles (2.9 mi) and Jamaica Conference Center (14.3 mi), along with National Gallery of Jamaica (14.6 mi) and African-Caribbean Heritage Centre (14.6 mi). Severe hurricanes have regularly damaged it. They did, however, retain its Taino name.[2]. Port Royal provided a safe harbour initially for privateers and subsequently for pirates plying the shipping lanes to and from Spain and Panama. The painting below is a reconstruction of what the town would have looked like after it was rebuilt in 1840. Even before the earth stopped shaking, locals reported that the looting began, one writing: Immediately upon the cessation of the extremity of the earthquake, your heart would abhorr to hear of the depredations, robberies and violences that were in an instant com… The Jamaican government has recently resolved to further develop the area for its historic and tourist value. In the end, all of these separate factors contributed to the impending disaster. Port Royal, Jamaica. When only a sand spit, it was first used by the Tainos as a fishing camp. This type of area did not provide a solid foundation on which to build an entire town. Port Royal, once known as the wickedest city on earth and the Sodom of the New World, revels in its pirate past. [4] While the merchants most certainly had the upper hand, the privateers were an integral part of the operation. Fort Charles has undergone a major renovation and is now open to visitors. The community is especially close-knit because of its layout - everywhere in town is within walking distance, and there are several generations of people all living together. Unlike most archaeological sites where civilizations evolve then disappear through the passage of time, or sites where buildings were built and later neglected or abandoned, eventually being destroyed and then possibly rebuilt; Port Royal is a city that existed in one minute and gone the next, perpetually frozen in the state it was, when disaster struck. A stopped pocket watch found in the harbour in 1959 indicated that it occurred around 11:43 a.m.. [6], The forced trade became almost a way of life in Port Royal. Plans were developed in 1999 to redevelop the small fishing town as a heritage tourism destination to serve cruise ships. In 1657, as a solution to his defence concerns, Governor Edward D'Oley invited the Brethren of the Coast to come to Port Royal and make it their home port. Many of the buildings where the 6,500 … [5], In 1981, the Nautical Archaeology Program at Texas A&M University began a 10-year underwater archaeological investigation of the portion of Port Royal that sank underwater during the 17th century. At the beginning of the 1690s, Port Royal was a big city in Jamaica, bustling with trade both legal and illegal. Old Port Royal features a cruise ship pier extending from a reconstructed Chocolata Hole harbour and Fisher's Row, a group of cafes and shops on the waterfront. The taverns of Port Royal were known for their excessive consumption of alcohol such that records even exist of the wild animals of the area partaking in the debauchery. It was also ideally situated for launching raids on Spanish settlements. [3], The Spanish first landed in Jamaica in 1494 under the leadership of Christopher Columbus. Merchants would sponsor trading endeavors with the Spanish, while also sponsoring privateers to attack Spanish ships and rob Spanish coastal towns. Thoughts were that it could capitalize on its unique heritage, with archaeological findings from pre-colonial and privateering years as the basis of possible attractions. It belongs to a small group of sites that include Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy, the Ozette Indian Village in the state of Washington. It’s hard to believe that Port Royal, Jamaica was once the largest city in the Caribbean. Zahedieh wrote, "The Portobello raid [in 1668] alone produced plunder worth £75,000, more than seven times the annual value of the island’s sugar exports, which at Port Royal prices did not exceed £10,000 at this time. Museum and Hellshire Beach history, including Blackbeard and Calico Jack, were..., which had an accompanying tsunami Spanish, while also sponsoring privateers to attack Spanish ships rob. 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