Saint Barthélemy

Saint Barthélemy (St. Barths in English) is one of the islands of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. The island is very beautiful and it’s history interesting. I visited it in March 2014.

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The coat of arms of Saint-Barthélemy shows those who have ruled the island. The three gold fleurs-de-lis on blue for France. The white Maltese cross on red for the Knights of Malta and the three gold crowns on blue for Sweden. “Ouanalao” is what the indigenous people called the island.

The indigenous people called the island Ouanalao. Christopher Columbus came to the island in 1493 and I have read that he named the island after his brother Bartholoméo. Saint Bartholomew was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and is the island’s patron saint. I don’t know why, but perhaps because ancient testimonies exist about the mission of Saint Bartholomew in India. Columbus was searching for India when he first discovered America and the island is part of the West Indies.

Saint Bartholomew was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and is the island’s patron saint. - The Catholic church "Our Lady of Assumption".
Saint Bartholomew was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and is the island’s patron saint. – The Catholic church “Our Lady of Assumption”.

The first settlement was wiped out by Carib Indians. Huguenots from Brittany and Normandy established the first permanent settlement which thrived on piracy.

WP_StBarth_FallbyssaPhillippe de Longvilliers de Poincy (1583–1660) seized the island in 1648. He was the governor of the French colonies in the Caribbean and Bailiff Grand Cross of the Knights of Malta.

The Knights of St. John bought 4 Caribbean islands in 1651: Saint Barthélemy, Saint Christopher, Saint Martin and Saint Croix from Compagnie des Îles de l’Amérique. They sold the islands to the French West India Company in 1665.

Except for a brief military takeover by the British in 1758, the island remained French until 1784, when the French king Louis XVI gave it to the Swedish king Gustaf III in exchange for trading rights in the Swedish port of Gothenburg.

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The building of the Swedish bell tower was financed by the Swedish judge Anders Bergsted. The inscription on the bell is in Swedish and reads: “1799 the bell was made for the community of Sophia Magdalena in Gustavia”. The tower has been restored twice.

There are many reminders of the Swedish rule on the island, such as the name Gustavia of the capital, duty-free status, street names, buildings and forts. Gustavia has a sister city in Sweden named Piteå and this relationship is celebrated on the Piteå Day in Gustavia e.g. with the Gustavia Loppet which is a marathon. There is also a street named; “Rue de Piteå”.

The Södermanland lodge was a Swedish rite freemasonry lodge on the island until 1820.

The foundation stone of the Anglican Church was laid 1853 by the Swedish governor James Haarlef Haasum.
Sir Richard Dinzey was made a Knight of the Royal Order of Wasa by King Oscar I of Sweden. - This memorial plaque is inside the Anglican Church.
Sir Richard Dinzey was made a Knight of the Royal Order of Wasa by King Oscar I of Sweden. – This memorial plaque is inside the Anglican Church.
The Dinzey´s house was build circa 1820 and is a good example of what the exclusive merchant houses looked during the Swedish period. The architecture with one story in wood on top of a stone construction was invented to avoid the risk of fires being spread in old wooden towns in Sweden.
The Dinzey´s house was build circa 1820 and is a good example of what the exclusive merchant houses looked during the Swedish period. The architecture with one story in wood on top of a stone construction was invented to avoid the risk of fires being spread in old wooden towns in Sweden.
Street names in French and Swedish.
Street names in French and Swedish.

WP_StBarth_SjavargatanWP_StBarth_TrangsundSweden sold the island back to France in 1878. It’s now an overseas collectivity of France. It’s not part of the European Union (EU) any longer, but instead one of the territories that have a special relationship with one of the member states of the EU, which are called; “Overseas countries and territories” (OCT). The Euro is the legal currency.

The Vanadis Plaza was baptized after the steam frigate Vanadis, the last Swedish warship to leave the island. In Norse mythology, Vanadís was one of the names of the goddess Freyja. The museum and territorial library is in the Wall House.
Hôtel de la Collectivité is the town hall.
The manchineel tree is marked with read because it´s one of the most poisonous trees in the world. Its fruits are similar in appearance to an apple. This reminded me of Adam and Eve eating a fruite which is often shown in paintings as an apple.
The manchineel tree is marked with read because it´s one of the most poisonous trees in the world. Its fruits are similar in appearance to an apple. This reminded me of Adam and Eve eating a fruite which is often shown in paintings as an apple.
Mail box looking like the red roof houses in Gustavia
Mail box looking like the red roof houses in Gustavia

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The island is now a favorite of the rich and famous.

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The town Lorient is known for its cemeteries filled with flowers.
The town Lorient is known for its cemeteries filled with flowers.

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