Barbados is a paradise for history buffs. The island’s rich, colorful past is evident in every corner of the island’s landscape. Barbados has more than enough to keep you busy for days, from historical buildings to landmarks. If you’re planning a trip to this majestic island, you should visit some of its historical sites. These 15 must-see historical sites in Barbados are a great way to learn about the island’s rich past and gain insight into what makes it such a fantastic place to visit today.

Hackleton’s Cliff

Hackleton’s Cliff, a steep rise that borders the rural parishes of St. Joseph and St. John, reaches a height of one thousand feet above sea level. This lofty vantage point offers one of the best vistas of Barbados’ east coast, making it a popular spot for island tours. On a clear day, you can see the entire eastern coastline from Cove Bay/Pico Tenerife in the northeast to Ragged Point in the southeast. The legend of Hackleton Cliff is that a local man riding his horse drove it off the cliff in the act of suicide. During colonial times, the Hackleton family was one of the most prominent families in the area, and several burial vaults are still located on this site. Some date as far back as 1600.

Oistins Fish Market

Oistins is a fishing village and community in the parish of Christ Church in Barbados. The town has a rich history; it was the site of a major clash between Royalist and Roundhead supporters in 1639 when Barbados tried to secede from England. Today, it has evolved into a bustling fish market. People from all over the island come to purchase fresh fish. During the appropriate seasons, one can obtain most types of fish: snapper, tuna, barracuda, shark, flying fish, and dolphin. At night, Oistins becomes alive with an atmosphere more befitting a carnival than a sleepy fishing village. Vendors cater to their regular customers and newcomers, serving plates of grilled or fried fish and mouthwatering side dishes like fishcakes, coleslaw, and breadfruit. 

James Parish Church

St. James Parish Church is situated on one of the oldest pieces of consecrated land in Barbados, which locals often call “God’s acre.” When the first English settlers arrived in Barbados in 1627, they built the original wooden structures that would become St. James Parish, which were severely damaged in the hurricanes that often hit Barbados. Later, officials decided to replace them with stone structures that could better withstand harsh weather. 

The St. James Parish Church in Barbados stands as it did in the late 1800s and early 1900s when it was established. The church building is rich with historical assets like the baptismal font, which dates back over three hundred years and bears an inscription: “Debit Richardus Walter to the Church of St. James Anno 1684.” It also has three lovely stained glass windows that are still in use today: a large Ascension window behind the altar, a smaller one behind the church’s pipe organ, and yet another in the baptistery.

Foursquare Rum Distillery 

Nestled in the southern countryside of Barbados, on 8 acres of a former sugar plantation, is the Foursquare Rum Distillery. The area around it, Heritage Park, offers a step back in time with its historic buildings, colonial architecture and folk museum, paying tribute to the critical role that sugar and rum have played in Barbados’ history. Entrance to the distillery is free, and visitors are welcome to explore and learn about how rum is made. 

St. Nicholas Abbey

St. Nicholas Abbey, a Jacobean mansion in St. Peter, was built in the late 1600s and is one of three such mansions in the area. You can spend as much time as you like enjoying the Plantation’s tranquil surroundings. Complimentary guided tours showcase a wealth of tradition, including antiques and artifacts spanning the home’s 350-year history. Visitors may also explore the Boiling House and rum distillery where St. Nicholas Abbey Rum is produced.

Andromeda Botanic Gardens

The Andromeda Botanical Gardens, located in St. Joseph’s eastern parish, is a magnificent eight-acre garden filled with tropical flowers, shrubs, and trees. Visitors can see all kinds of foliage while they stroll through the flower beds filled with begonias and cacti. The garden was started in 1954 by Mrs. Iris Bannochie, a local horticulturist, and is named for the mythical Greek goddess that was chained to a rock. 

Nidhe Israel Synagogue and Museum

The Nidhe Israel Synagogue—part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bridgetown and its Garrison—is located in a historic district containing several buildings and landmarks of historical interest. The synagogue is open to the public in daylight hours when the Barbados Jewish Community is not in session. The Historic District occupies an entire square block and contains numerous buildings dating from the mid-17th century, each with a rich history.

Barbados Garrison

The Historic Garrison is the most preserved 18th and 19th-century British colonial garrison in the world. Along with Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados, it boasts World Heritage Site status. Its physical attributes are exceptionally high, and its architecture represents the confluences of European and African craftsmanship.

During the 17th – 19th centuries, the Garrison was the Royal Navy’s headquarters and Army’s headquarters. The locals built the buildings using local materials in an adaptation of a European aesthetic that fit a tropical landscape and thus manifested a new genre of architectural style – Caribbean Georgian. This area is home to several notable landmarks, including the Garrison Savannah and the George Washington House.

George Washington House

For those who want to experience life in Barbados 250 years ago without going back, a visit to the Washington House is a must. George Washington later became the first President of the United States, but once visited Barbados in 1751 and stayed for a couple of months. During his stay, he resided in a home appropriately named Bush Hill House, after its location on Bush Hill. The Barbados National Trust has preserved the House, since renaming it and giving visitors a glimpse of life in Barbados during Washington’s era. You can even explore the secret tunnels, originally constructed as the area’s first drainage system – although, according to legend, these tunnels are believed to have been used as escape routes for Garrison troops during an enemy invasion.

Gun Hill Signal Station

The Gun Hill Signal Station, located in the parish of St. George, offers a magnificent view of the entire island! Gun Hill is one of many signal stations built in Barbados between 1793 and 1818, where soldiers could see approaching ships and signal to each other whether the vessel was friendly or that of an enemy using flags. Today, the Barbados National Trust maintains the Signal Station and houses a military memorabilia collection. Stop in for a refreshing drink and snack at the on-site café.

The Speightstown Mural

As you explore Barbados, you will likely notice colorful murals on buildings and boardwalks. One of our favorites is the Speightstown Mural, located on the beachfront in the northern town of Speightstown. This 80 ft long, 20 ft tall piece of art paints a beautiful picture of Barbados’ history and natural beauty, with images of Harrison’s Cave, the Barbados Flag, and Green Monkeys! It is free to visit this mural, and a great way to appreciate Barbados’s colorful history and culture.

The Parliament Buildings

The Parliament Buildings, located on top of Broad Street in the capital city of Bridgetown, are home to the House of Assembly and Senate. Constructed from local limestone and completed in the late 1800s, these buildings have more than 350 years of history packed into them. Built as a primary source of adequate accommodation for the Houses of Parliament and a secure, two-story building to consolidate the significant public offices, these buildings also served as a safe home for Barbados’ Public Records.

Queens Park

Queen’s Park is a lush estate located in the capital city of Bridgetown. The King’s House, a landmark built in 1783, was originally the home of the Commanding Officer of the British Troops in the West Indies. Today the area is a designated park, and a lovely one at that. Be sure to look out for one of the oldest living things in Barbados, a baobab tree over 1000 years old and approximately 61 1/2 feet (18 m) in circumference! Art exhibitions and local craft shows take place throughout the year at this tranquil park, and there are also washroom facilities and a play area. 

Morgan Lewis Mill

The Morgan Lewis Windmill is Barbados’ only intact sugar mill and the fourth wonder of Barbados! Perched on a hilltop in northern St. Andrew, the Morgan Lewis Windmill offers spectacular views of the Scotland District and the East Coast. Guided and self-guided tours are available during daylight hours. The Grind Artisan Cafe, located next to the windmill, offers breathtaking east coast views and an incredible selection of sweet and savory options, including sandwiches, quiches, and cakes.

Harrison’s Point Lighthouse

Harrison Point lighthouse is the youngest of Barbados’ four lighthouses. Built in 1925, it stands 26 m (85 ft) tall and has a focal plane of 193ft / 59m. Although no longer in active use, it flashes every 15 seconds with two white flashes. The other Barbados lighthouses are located at South Point, Ragged Point, and Needham’s Point. You can’t climb up it, but you can look closely at the old keeper’s quarters and imagine what life was like for those living there. Next to Harrison Point lighthouse are the now abandoned and dilapidated light station buildings.