Most people visit Trinidad and Tobago for the food, the beaches, the landscape, and of course, Carnival. For those who are more of a history buff, while there isn’t a whole lot to see, you are also covered. Scattered across both islands are various historical sites, including forts. These forts should not come as a surprise considering the Caribbean’s colonial history. The British, the French, the Spanish, the Dutch, and even the Courlanders were all sniffing around the Caribbean, generally causing mayhem. And there were also pirates – can’t forget about the pirates!
Two forts in Trinidad and Tobago share a common name as they were built in the same time period during King George III’s reign (English). Fort George is in Trinidad and Fort King George is in Tobago. When I visit a fort, I tend to focus on two things:
- Architecture: I love a good restoration but I also love ruins that evoke moods.
- Vistas: A good view means I can almost see the billowing smoke from firing canons or pretend to be a bored soldier sweltering in his wool uniform.
Trinidad’s Fort George
This site was built about 1804 and was once a fortifications complex. It was supposed to play a major role in the island’s defences but it never did see military action. But it was still kept busy as merchants would move their valuable wares here when there were rumours of war. By 1846, it was decommissioned and a signal station was constructed in 1883 (the white building). This station was in operation until 1964.
There really isn’t much to see at this fort – a few walls, some locked doors in a hill, and some cannons. And the signal station. So the architecture bit was lacking for me. However, the fantastic view of Trinidad’s coastline more than makes up for that. From this vantage point, one can see modern day Port of Spain laid out below and the Caribbean Sea sparkling just beyond. On a clear day, one can see as far as Venezuela!
The area is well maintained but it is still safer to not go alone. There are a few benches and tables so you can enjoy the cooling breezes and if you go late in the afternoon, the setting sun is marvelous. Why not bring a picnic up here and escape the hustle and bustle of Port of Spain for a couple hours?
Tobago’s Fort King George
Built in the 1770s, this British fort is a pretty place. It’s the best preserved fort on Tobago, and probably is also the best one in the country. Unlike the fort in Trinidad, there is quite a bit of architecture remaining that you can explore. There is also a museum in the Barrack Guard House where you can see military artifacts and Amerindian artifacts. The icing on the cake with Fort King George is the sweeping view out to sea. There is no way your imagination will not go into overdrive here!
I suggest visiting the fort a couple hours before sunset as the glow of the setting sun guilds everything around you, making for beautiful photographs. Just like at the fort on Trinidad, why not bring a picnic and bask in the views and magnificent light for a while.
Fort George: Fort George Road, St. James, Trinidad; Open 9am to 5:30pm; Free admission
Fort King George: 84 Fort Street, Scarborough (off of Main Street), Tobago; Open 9am to 5:00pm; Free admission to the grounds