St John’s, Antigua and Barbuda

Reference work entry


St John’s is Antigua and Barbuda’s capital and its only city. On Antigua’s northwest coast, it is built around the islands largest natural harbour.


Before British colonialization in the seventeenth century, Arawak Indians inhabited the area. Architecturally, the modern tourist-oriented complexes are off-set by many well preserved buildings from the colonial era making St John’s an interesting, if not entirely beautiful, city.

Modern City

The city is now split between areas of vigorous tourism-based commercialism and considerable poverty.

Places of Interest

St John’s is dominated by the twin-steepled Georgian Cathedral that is now in its third incarnation, its antecedents having been devastated by earthquakes in 1683 and 1745. The current building was erected in 1845. Tourism centres around two main areas; Redcliffe Quay, originally a slave compound until the abolition of slavery in 1834; and Heritage Quay, which opened in 1988 and entices in cruise ship visitors with its promises of duty free shopping. Elsewhere, there are ample museums, bars, clubs and casinos. St John’s is also the island’s most significant port.

Lord Nelson’s shadow looms over St John’s as a result of his having spent two periods in the city. He served 3 years of his early career here and returned in 1805, shortly before the Battle of Trafalgar, while pursuing the French Admiral Villeneuve. The city’s favourite son, though, is the cricketer Sir Viv Richards who has both a museum and a road dedicated to him.

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© Springer Nature Limited 2019

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