If you are looking for isolation, there are few better places to go than Jamestown, the capital of St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha and Ascension. The city is located on St. Helena Island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, about halfway between Namibia in Africa and Brazil in South America.
The island’s most famous in habitant was Napoleon, who was exiled there and died there. His remains were disinterred, but you can still visit his beautiful gravesite in a colorful, flower-laden glade. You can also explore two of his residences on St. Helena. Before moving into a respectable house in Longwood, the famed general stayed for two months at The Briars. Both sites can be toured by appointment.
The Longwood House’s several wings are filled with period furniture and are maintained as a museum by the French government. The grounds are filled with flowers, and the gardens are worth a stroll on a sunny afternoon.
The island’s grandest home, however, belongs to the governor. Marvelous land tortoises roam the grounds, including one reported to be the world’s oldest living vertebrate. The house itself looks like it was transported directly from 18th-century England.
Jamestown is home to the Museum of Saint Helena, which offers a great introduction to the island’s history, culture and people. Housed in an early 19th-century warehouse, the museum showcases St. Helenian stamps, island communications, currency, religious icons and geological specimens that portray the island’s origins.
Built in 1829, Jacob’s Ladder rises from the capital to Half Tree Hollow above. The 699 steps were used to carry goods down from agricultural areas to the island’s center and were also used to bring manure up and away from the town. It is a prodigious climb, and most people cannot make the trek all in one go. Not only is the staircase long, but it is also steep, making the climb even more of a challenge. There are railings, and if you see a local child hanging around, ask him or her to show you how to slide down them; they have a local secret for completing the scary feat without falling to their deaths.
Shortly after taking over the island in 1659, the British built The Castle to house the government, and the imposing building still serves that purpose today. Visitors can tour the Council Chambers, visit the Archives and Administration departments and catch great views of the entire town from the uppermost levels. Nearby is the Courthouse, which houses both the Supreme Courts and the Magistrates.
Behind The Castle is a rather oddly-shaped park known as the Castle Gardens. Tropical plants and many endemic species thrive there, and visitors can see and hear swarms of songbirds around the enormous ficus tree.
Fortifications sprang up around the mouth of the James Valley following Napoleon’s exile in the 19th century. A lovely archway frames Jamestown in one direction and the harbor in the other. Walking into Jamestown, visitors can see the English East India Company’s coat of arms above the archway, then spot a plaque dedicated to St. Helena’s endemic Wirebird when leaving.
Jamestown Geographical Location
Jamestown is located in the northwest of Saint Helena on its coast and has a small population of approximately 715 people.
English is the official language of Saint Helena and is spoken by virtually the entire population.
Jamestown Predominant Religion
- 100% Christian
The majority of Saint Helenians are Protestant, specifically Anglican, with the remainder following Roman Catholicism.
The Saint Helena pound, which is of equal value to the British Pound, is the official currency of Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha.
Jamestown’s temperature is consistently warm and pleasant throughout the year, moderated by the proximity to the ocean.
Jamestown Main Attractions
- The Museum of Saint Helena
- The Cenotaph
- Jacob’s Ladder
Other Attraction in Jamestown
- The Castle
- Heart-Shaped Waterfall
- Longwood House