The next step on our tour enjoying Cayman’s tourist attractions is the Islands’ capital, George Town
As residents we probably take George Town for granted. It’s a place we go to work, bank, post letters, study and read at the library, or it may just be a place where we get a connecting bus to elsewhere in Grand Cayman. It’s also the place to avoid midweek, when the capital is full to bursting with cruise ship tourists on the streets, in the shops and on the road. But our nation’s capital is also full to bursting with incredible history, with monuments, statues and buildings that create a lively story of Cayman’s past and speak volumes about Cayman’s proud seafaring heritage. It’s therefore a worthy addition to our series on Cayman’s tourist attractions.
The face of George Town has changed considerably over the past few decades. Years ago the prominent buildings were just the Cayman Islands National Museum (the oldest public building in Cayman) and the Elmslie Memorial Church, both on the waterfront, and the General Post Office, the old Public Library and the Town Hall Peace Memorial, all of which (except the Museum) were built by Captain Rayal Brazley Bodden, a prominent local shipbuilder. Look inside up at the ceiling in the Post Office and the Church and you will see an upturned hull that reflects Captain Rayal’s skills as a ship builder.
Nowadays a state of the art new library sits just behind the old Public Library, so Cayman’s residents and visitors have access to a well-stocked and modern library, never-the-less the developers of the new facility had the presence of mind to ensure that the old Public Library remained in all its glory, and it is still used for various functions, serving as a great reminder of Cayman’s history.
Focussing on the central part of the capital, surrounded by banks, law courts and shops, Quincentennial Square houses various monuments and statues to honour significant aspects of Caymanian history. The mariner’s monument includes an amazing statue called Tradition sculptured by Simon Morris. This is a reminder to all of those who sacrificed their lives at sea for their families and their country, with a list of names of those who have perished. Another statue honours women in Caymanian history who have made their individual mark on the country, while a statue of Jim Bodden honours one of Cayman’s national heroes. A beautiful wall of history created by artist John Broad details some of the milestones in the development of the Cayman Islands and a Wall of Honour lists the names of 500 Caymanians who have also stood out in Caymanian history.
The ruins of an 18th century fort might not initially sound too exciting, but they happen to be part of one of the oldest structures in Cayman. Fort George used to overlook the harbour but development in front of this location has now landlocked the site. This is a fascinating attraction that, with the help of three colourful murals again created by John Broad, tells the tale of how Cayman has defended the islands from invaders over the centuries, from Spanish marauders to German attackers in World War II.
So, the next time you are in George Town shopping, working or banking, take the time to immerse yourself in the history and heritage that is all around!