St George’s, Grenada | Neighbourhood

One of the Caribbean’s most picturesque cities, Grenada’s capital is full of historic architecture and stunning views — and is a growing centre of attraction for lovers of high-end chocolate

  • Photo courtesy Pure Grenada Tourism Authority
  • Photo by Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock.com
  • Photo by Santhosh Varghese/Shutterstock.com
  • Photo courtesy House of Chocolate Grenada Museum
  • Photo by Sonix Productions Courtesy Pure Grenada Tourism Authority

Chocolate fix

In recent years, a handful of local chocolatiers have started making world-class chocolate products from Grenada’s excellent cocoa, which historically was mostly exported. These bean-to-bar artisans are scattered across the island, but you can find their products in the heart of St George’s at House of Chocolate Grenada, a hybrid museum-emporium with exhibits on the history of cocoa farming on the island, plus a café where you can enjoy chocolate treats on the spot and a gift shop where you can stock up on bars from the Grenada Chocolate Factory, Belmont Estate, Crayfish Bay Organics, and others — perfect presents to take home for friends, if you can resist devouring them yourself.

Streetscape

Surrounding the sheltered natural harbour called the Carenage, St George’s is a city of slopes, its streets rising in terraces towards the heights of Hospital Hill. To the west, the city stretches out along a small but steep promontory, with eighteenth-century Fort George at its tip, and the 650-foot Sendall Tunnel offering motorised traffic a shortcut. The pavements here are likely to be flights of steps, and at the heart of the city a blind junction requires a policeman to keep cars moving along. Ornate French Creole houses with balconies and fretwork vie with elegant English Georgian buildings. Perched above the harbour, a trio of nineteenth-century churches — Methodist, Anglican, and Roman Catholic, in order of age — still form St George’s skyline. Though many of the city’s historic buildings were damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, restoration work has returned most to service.

Spice it up

It’s hard to spend a day in the Spice Island and not taste a hint of nutmeg: it’s ubiquitous in the island’s cuisine, and sometimes it seems the very breeze coming down from the hills carries its scent. A fifth of the world’s nutmeg is grown on this single island, and if you love a dash of the freshly grated spice in your desserts or drinks — who doesn’t? — this is the place to stock up on whole nutmegs, whether at a traditional market or in a grocery. Look out too for delicious nutmeg jam, another perfect souvenir: as you spread it on toast for breakfast, the scent will take you back to Grenada’s green hills.

Beach time

Just a mile south of St George’s is one of the Caribbean’s most famous beaches: the long, golden expanse of Grande Anse, lined with big resorts, small guesthouses, restaurants, and every other kind of tourism amenity — but none rising above the height of the coconut trees. The calm bay is perfect for swimming and watersports, and there’s no shortage of beachfront bars for sunset cocktails. But if you’re looking for a slightly more secluded swim, head one bay south to horseshoe-shaped Morne Rouge, which hasn’t yet been built up from end to end.

A rescue remembered

For over fifty years, a statue called Christ of the Deep on the St George’s waterfront has served as a convenient landmark, and a memorial to a tragedy averted by the heroic efforts of ordinary Grenadians. On 22 October, 1961, the Italian liner Bianca C, a regular visitor to St George’s, caught fire in the harbour, with over six hundred passengers and crew on board. As the alarm was raised, dozens of boats — from luxury yachts to small fishing vessels — formed a rescue flotilla. With the exception of three crewmen injured in the initial explosion, everyone was rescued — and housed and fed for two weeks, through the efforts of many Grenadian volunteers. The statue was a thank-you gift from the Bianca C’s owners — and the wreck itself (above) is now a famous if challenging dive site off Grenada’s southwestern coast.

History

Founded in 1650 by settlers from Martinique as Port Louis, St George’s soon acquired a fort on its promontory — originally named Fort Royale — as the French colonists waged battle against the indigenous Caribs. When Grenada was ceded to Britain in 1763, the town was renamed for the patron saint of England. Long the island’s chief port, and one of the Caribbean’s best-sheltered anchorages, St George’s also served a stint as capital of the British Windward Islands. Independence came to Grenada in 1974. Four years later, the New Jewel Movement led by Maurice Bishop seized power from dictatorial prime minister Eric Gairy, launching the Grenada Revolution. Fort George was the site of the Revolution’s bloodiest and most tragic moment in 1983, when a NJM faction arrested and executed Bishop — shot against a wall inside the fort with seven others.

Another blow to the city came in 2004 when the first hurricane in half a century struck Grenada. Category Three Hurricane Ivan damaged ninety per cent of Grenada’s houses alongside many St George’s landmarks. Recovery took years.

Co-ordinates

12º N 61.75º W
Sea level

Caribbean Airlines operates regular flights to Maurice Bishop International Airport in Grenada from Trinidad, with connections to other destinations in the Caribbean and North and South America