Barbados - Cultural Destinations

Nidhe Israel Synagogue Museum in Bridgetown is considered the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. Built in the 1650s, it now features colorful panel displays and multimedia presentations about the history of Jewish culture on Barbados.

The Arlington House Museum is an interactive three-story museum, with each floor dedicated to a separate exhibit. "Speightstown Memories" covers the lives of the island's first settlers; "Plantation Memories" illuminates the influence of colonization and sugar cane on the island; in "Wharf Memories," a talking pirate recalls the prominence of the island's second largest town, Speightstown, as a leading port and trade hub.

Barbados is home to a number of historical plantation houses, which offer glimpses into the life of the island's early settlers. The Barbados National Trust welcomes visitors into these and other private homes from January to April through its Open House program.

Three of these working plantation houses demonstrate the history of the sugar cane industry: St. Nicholas Abbey, built 1650, is one only three existing authentic Jacobean mansions in the Western Hemisphere. The Sunbury Plantation House and Museum, more than 300 years old, was refurbished in 1995. The plantation contains a collection of rare Caribbean collectibles and furnishings donated by several patrons as well as a collection of horse-drawn carriages. The two-and-half-foot thick walls of the house date back to the 1660s. Francia Plantation consists of the Great House, surrounded by terraced lawns and gardens in a marriage of European and Caribbean traditions. It also features a collection of antique West Indian maps. Sam Lord's Castle is an opulent, 1820s estate with double verandas and plaster ceilings by the same artisan who created those in England's Windsor Castle. It is widely considered the finest mansion In the English-speaking Caribbean. Other noteworthy plantation houses include Brighton Great House, Drax Hall, Villa Nova (now a hotel), and the Tyrol Cot Heritage Village.

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