The capital of the US Virgin Islands is Charlotte Amalie. Named after the Danish queen, it is a lovely old port town situated in the centre of St. Thomas. Once the refuge of pirates, Charlotte Amalie’s deep-water harbour is now the most popular port of call for cruises in the Caribbean. Visitors disembarking here are welcomed by a beautiful view of the white and pastel homes that dot the verdant, rolling hills.
The town’s main street, Dronningens Gade, is a prime area for dining, duty-free shopping and sight-seeing—in fact, since a number of the town’s boutiques are housed in old colonial establishments, you can do both at the same time. Other interesting places in Charlotte Amalie are:
- Fort Christian: a National Historic Landmark and, at 350 years old, the oldest edifice in the territory. It was named after the Danish king Christian V. The bright red brick stronghold was built to protect the Danish settlement from pirate raids and other European colonizers. The fort was later used as a police station, a court, a jail, Government House, community centre and a church. Today it houses a museum that exhibits historical relics from its past. Make sure to climb up onto the roof to take in the beautiful view of the nearby harbour.
- The Grand Hotel: a commercial complex with a number of shops and restaurants. Built in the mid-19th century, it used to be a hotel that occupied a whole city block.
- Hotel 1829: a hotel that was built in 1829 and is still in operation today. It is a fine example of what island architecture was like during Danish rule.
- Lutheran Church: this place of worship near Fort Christian has a cheerful yellow-gold exterior and an inviting staircase.
- 99 Steps: a stair path constructed by the Danes in the mid-1700s as a way to get around the steep hills of Charlotte Amalie. The steps are constructed from bricks that once helped balance sailing ships. 99 Steps is actually made up of 103 steps. When you’ve finished climbing it, you will be rewarded by the awesome view of the harbour.