Visiting a Bahamas fort

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A drawbridge stretches out across the dry moat to Fort Charlotte

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.

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Cannons aimed toward the Nassau Harbor

Fort Charlotte, a British colonial era fortress, is one of the main attractions in Nassau, the capital of Bahamas. I and my travel buddy decided to check it out real early morning a before the daily crowd to have a better chance of taking photos minus photo bombers, and that was the best decision we made.

 

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Built of solid rock over a 32-year period, composed of solid rock, Fort Charlotte was completed in 1819. 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.

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It was exciting to cross the wooden draw bridge and enter the fort which is actually comprised of three distinct forts—Fort Charlotte to the east, Fort Stanley in the center and Fort D’Arcy, to the west.  Early in the morning 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.

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Steep flights of narrow uneven concrete stairs lead to the underground chambers.

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 and 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.

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We learned that on Wednesdays and Fridays, the fort takes visitors back to the 18th century with a program featuring characters clad in period costume. 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.

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Underground passageways under Fort Charlotte houses exhibits of the history of the fort

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 9a.m. to 5p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and from 9am to 1pm 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 is prohibited. Entrance to the fort is $5 for adults, $3 for children under 12 years old and $3 for senior citizens.

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Tip: Try to get to the fort as soon as it opens, or just before the passengers from cruise ships are out 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 too.

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Nassau uses the Bahamian dollar but it is equivalent to the U.S. dollar, and the U.S. dollar is accepted everywhere.

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