Spanish Town

From Academic Kids

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A 1774 engraving of Spanish Town's colonial offices

Spanish Town is the former Spanish and English capital of Jamaica, during the 16th through 19th centuries, and is a World Heritage Site. The city is home to certain memorials, the national archives, a small population, and the oldest Anglican church outside of England.

The Spanish settlement of Villa de la Vega was founded in 1534 as the capital of the colony. Later, it was also called Santiago de la Vega. Indigenous Taino had been living in the area for approximately a millenium before this, but this was the first European habitation on the south of the island. When the English conquered Jamaica in 1655, they renamed the capital Spanish Town. Since the town was badly damaged during the conquest, Port Royal took on many administrative roles and functioned as an unofficial capital during the beginning of the English reign. By the time Port Royal was decimated by an earthquake in 1692, Spanish Town had been rebuilt and was again functioning as the capital.

Kingston was founded in the aftermath of the earthquake and became the immediate heir to the thriving trade of Port Royal after 1692, as it was on the same harbor. The inland Spanish Town remained the capital until 1872, when the seat of the colony was moved to Kingston.

Today, Spanish Town is sometimes referred to as "Spain" or "Prison Oval" within the confines of Jamaica. The latter nickname is a reference to the Cricket pitch or oval located just outside the Spanish Town prison where some inmates can get a limited view of the sport through their cell windows. Association football is also played at the Prison Oval.

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