In the capital of the Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie, stands a large, imposing, red fort and if its walls could talk what a history it would tell. Fort Christian is the oldest standing structure in the Virgin Islands; it has stood as a sentry overlooking the Charlotte Amalie Harbor for over 300 years. Fort Christian might tell tales of Danish militia, required attendance of religious gatherings, of governors, of small bars lining the streets and pirates, of hurricanes, rich trading days and coaling operations… Fort Christian stands as a symbol of Virgin Islands’ rich history.
Fort Christian was built by the Danes and named after King Christian V. The bright red fort was built to defend the Danish settlements on the islands and to protect the beautiful natural harbor in Charlotte Amalie. Construction of the fort began in 1666 and ended in 1680. In the 1700′s, the fort was expanded and in 1874 a new entrance with a Victorian Clock tower was added.
In its early days the fort was used as a governor’s residence. It was also used as a church, community center, police station, court and jail. In 1983 it ceased being the local jail. Fort Christian is a National Historic Landmark and today is used as a Virgin Islands history Museum.
Exhibits at the Fort Christian Museum include a history of the islands from Indian times to the present, a natural history collection, several interesting articles and photos and a selection of handmade wood furniture used by the affluent middle class in the Danish West Indies. Gallery space holds monthly art shows and the gift shop offers local crafts, books and other souvenirs. The Museum is open weekdays 8:30am to 4:30pm.