Fronting the Atlantic Ocean, Guyana’s capital city, Georgetown, is situated at the mouth of the Demerara River. Lying below the high-tide level, the city is protected by a seawall and bisected by a series of canals. The city was formerly known as Stabroek.
Georgetown was once a trading post for bauxite, timber, diamonds, and gold, and of course the sugar cane that enriched colonial governments. With its Victorian and Dutch colonial architecture and tree-lined avenues, Georgetown, has retained an almost fairytale-like appearance and is home to many attractions. Here are six of the most popular:
1. St George’s Cathedral
Built in 1899, this Anglican cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Guyana. This wooden church, which stands 43.5 meters high, was designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield, a prominent English architect. Located in Church Street, Georgetown, St George’s Cathedral has been designated a Guyanese National Monument.
The Anglican Church’s presence in Guyana dates back to 1781, when the Reverend William Baggs briefly visited the country. Nevertheless, it was not until 1796, when Reverend Francis MacMahon started holding services, that the impact of Anglicanism was felt in the country.
The interior of St George’s Cathedral is characterized by clustered columns, Gothic arches, and flying buttresses. The church features a small, carved oak Gothic shrine, as well as stained glass windows in a myriad of different colors, depicting scenes from the Crucifixion and Ascension.
2. National Museum
Guyana National Museum was established in 1868 by the Royal Agricultural and commercial Society of British Guyana. It was initially created to house local minerals, timbers, soils, seeds, fruits, dyes, resins, gums, and drugs, as well as exhibiting flora and fauna indigenous to Guyana.
Located in North Road, Georgetown, Guyana National Museum today houses a wealth of important collections. These include precious stones, archaeological exhibits, and a variety of different Amerindian arts and crafts.
3. Castellani House
This impressive 19th century construction is situated on the corner of Homestretch Avenue and Vlissengen Road. It was designed between 1879 and 1882 by Cesar Castellani, a successful Maltese architect. The building was originally occupied by colonial government officials.
Between 1965 and 1985, the property was home to Prime Minister Forbes Burnham and his wife, Viola Burnham. During this period, it was simply referred to as “the Residence.”
Following major modernization, the property was reopened in 1993 as the home of the National Art Gallery under curator Everley Austin. Today, Castellani House houses more than 700 works of art, including pieces by Stanley Greaves, E.R. Burrowes, Frank Bowling, Bernadette Persaud, Denis Williams, George Simon, and Aubrey Williams.
4. Stabroek Market
Local markets lie at the heart of any city, particularly in areas where supermarkets have not yet become common. Local markets provide vital access to a variety of different products, from fresh fruit and vegetables to shoes and electronics. In Georgetown, Stabroek Market is one such.
Beginning with its iconic clock tower, a landmark that dominates the skyline of Georgetown, moving down to ground level, there is much to see and experience here. Numerous secondary markets have sprouted around the central building, overflowing into the parking lot.
Stabroek Market is a bustling area of the city. It serves as a central hub for minibuses, taxis, and ferries, all of which transport people and goods from villages and towns along the Demerara River. Many merchants travel to the market to sell a variety of different items, including arts, crafts, and jewelry.
5. Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology
Located in Main Street, North Cummingsburg, Georgetown, the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology is the oldest anthropological museum in Guyana. The museum was created using collections from Dr. Denis Williams, a leading Guyanese archaeologist.
In 1980, the anthropological collections of Mr. J.J. Quelch, Dr. Walter Roth, and Sir Everard im Thurn were transferred from the Guyana Museum. Today, the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology’s exhibits include excavated artifacts from all 10 of Guyana’s Administrative Regions.
6. Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens is one of Georgetown’s most popular recreational parks. Established at a cost of $72,000 in 1877, gardener John Frederick Waby presided over the Botanical Gardens, turning it into one of the most impressive tropical gardens in the region. Today, it hosts one of the most extensive collections of tropical flora to be found anywhere in the Caribbean, as well as featuring canals, ponds, a bandstand, and kissing bridges.
The Botanical Gardens contain a vast array of tropical flower species, as well as an extensive palm collection and many different varieties of lily, including the Victoria Regia Lily, the national flower of Guyana. Guyana Zoo lies within the gardens, hosting a variety of animal species, including wild cats, tapir, giant otter, two-toed sloth, and manatee.
Guyana’s oldest bank, GBTI, is proud to serve the people of Georgetown, with numerous branches across the city, including Regent Street and Water Street.
Featured Image by Dan Sloan | Flickr