The historical Fort Charlotte in Nassau is what I always envisioned forts should be—an imposing structure located on top of a hill surrounded by a moat, with thick walls and dungeons with a draw bridge, except that the moat is dry. You can walk all around it.
History behind the walls
Fort Charlotte, a British colonial-era fortress, is one of the main attractions in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. I and my travel buddy decided to check it out real early in the morning, before the daily crowd arrives. We wanted to have a better chance of taking photos minus photo bombers, and that was the best decision we made.
Fort Charlotte was built of solid rock and completed in 1849, over a 32-year period. This 18th century military complex is perched on top of a high ridge offering visitors a stunning view of blue waters of the West Bay and Nassau Harbor.
It was exciting to cross the wooden draw bridge and enter the fort. Fort Charlotte is comprised of three distinct forts—Fort Charlotte to the east, Fort Stanley in the center, and Fort D’Arcy, to the west. The fort was deserted with only a couple of other early tourists. We went down a steep flight of uneven concrete stairs that winds all the way down to the dungeons.
Narrow underground wooden passageways fork out to various rooms where exhibits are displayed depicting the history of the fort.
Fort Charlotte was constructed during the governorship of Lord Dunmore. It was named in honor of the wife of King George III. The cannons and guns installed all around the fort were also never fired because potential invaders were hampered by such a formidable and insurmountable military installation.
Re-creating the past
We learned that on Wednesdays and Fridays, the fort takes visitors back to the 18th century with a program featuring characters clad in period costumes. They then demonstrate techniques for basket weaving and showcase kitchen utensils that people use 250 years ago. The special program culminates with a firing of the cannon at 12 noon.
We missed all of this because, unfortunately, we came on a Monday and already had other plans for the week.
Fort Charlotte is within walking distance from downtown Nassau. It is also just a short 15-20 minute drive from most major resorts on the island. The fort is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and from 9 am to 1 pm on Sundays.
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The fort has a gift shop that sells souvenirs and gift items as well as access for wheelchairs in the fort. Smoking and littering in the fort are prohibited. Entrance to the fort is $5 for adults, $3 for children under 12 years old, and $3 for senior citizens.
Try to get to the fort as soon as it opens, or just before the passengers from cruise ships are out. This is if you want to avoid the usual crowd and have the fort to yourself. Restrooms are always cleanest in the morning, too. Try to come on a Wednesday or a Friday for the unique experience.
Nassau uses the Bahamian dollar but it is equivalent to the U.S. dollar. The U.S. dollar is accepted everywhere in the Bahamas.