Why is Castries the capital of Saint Lucia?

Why is Castries the capital of Saint Lucia?
Why is Castries the capital of Saint Lucia?

Saint Lucia is a small, Caribbean island country measuring a mere 27 miles long. With an active tourism industry – owing to its waterfalls, volcanic beaches, mountains, and reefs – you may be left wondering what the capital of this nation is. 

Saint Lucia’s capital city is Castries, and it also serves as the country’s major port. Castries is responsible for exporting various crops like bananas, limes, and sugarcane. Castries was not the first capital of Saint Lucia, as it became the capital of this island nation in 1967 before Saint Lucia gained independence from Great Britain in 1979.

Keep reading along as we explore the history, locale, and tourist interests in Castries, Saint Lucia. You’ll get to learn what makes this island nation, which is a member of the Commonwealth, so popular.  

Where is the Capital of Saint Lucia located?

Where is the Capital of Saint Lucia located?
Where is the Capital of Saint Lucia located?

Castries – Saint Lucia’s capital city – is a coastal city located in the Northwest of Saint Lucia island. Castries itself is situated at the base of its harbor and within the Northwest quarter of the nation, which is also referred to as Castries.

The primary landmark of Castries is Vigie Beach, and its location makes it a prime spot for cruise lines to dock. Castries is surrounded by the cities of Perou, Corinth, Choc, and Sarot. 

It may be shocking to believe, but in this one small location, almost ⅓ of Saint Lucia’s 183,000+ population can be found. 

Brief History of Castries, Saint Lucia

Aerial view of port Castries with duty free shops.
Aerial view of port Castries with duty free shops.

Castries is a capital with a varied and interesting history in the Caribbean. Castries wasn’t always referred to by its present name, and in the past, it held the title of The Carenage before the 18th century, which was then a common town name in the West Indies. 

It wasn’t until 1785 that the capital city got its current name, after the French colonial Minister for the navy Marshal de Castries. This name didn’t stay constant, though, and wouldn’t become permanent until 1803. 

Saint Lucia has a deep history in the sugar industry, with Castries and its harbor at the heart of it. Castries also has a long history of being fought over by the British and the French, with each country’s colonial rule changing throughout the centuries. 

By 1979, Saint Lucia gained its independence from the United Kingdom, although it still remains a part of the Commonwealth today. 

When did Castries become the capital of Saint Lucia?

Castries, St Lucia, Eastern Caribbean
Castries, St Lucia, Eastern Caribbean

Castries wasn’t always the known capital of Saint Lucia island. It wasn’t until 1967 that Castries became the capital city of Saint Lucia, as the nation was a new associated state of Britain at that point. Later, in 1979, the nation gained independence and Castries retained its capital city status. 

The original capital city of Saint Lucia was a town called Soufrière, located on the Southwestern coast of the island nation. Another product of French colonization, this town was the capital back in the 18th century. 

Why is Castries the capital of Saint Lucia?

Since Castries wasn’t always the capital of Saint Lucia, you may be wondering how it came to hold that position over the years. 

Castries became the capital of Saint Lucia in part due to its ideal location on the coast of the island. With its harbor being one of the best deep-water harbors in the Caribbean, it’s a prime spot for exporting goods. 

But more specifically, in the 17th century, the French West India Company had a lot to do with choosing Castries as the country’s capital. In 1650, the island was bought by the French, at which point they chose to relocate the capital city to the southern side of the harbor and rename it Castries, rather than Carenage.

Best Places to visit in Castries

For potential tourists interested in visiting the city of Castries, Saint Lucia, it’s helpful to know what you’ll find there. The following are some of the best spots to check out when you visit Castries so that you can make the most of your travel time there. 

  1. Castries Market – Castries Market is a must-see if you’re in Castries, even if just for a morning. This is the largest open-air market and vendor’s arcade in Castries, situated in the center of the city. It has been around for more than a century, and it’s a great spot to stop for breakfast, local meals, or even to browse the stalls to buy crafts and ingredients. 
  2. Vigie Beach – With beautiful white sands and views of Saint Lucia’s mountains and Caribbean waters, Vigie Beach is difficult to pass up while visiting Castries. It’s typically clean and uncrowded, and it’s just a few minutes away from the heart of the city and markets.
  3. Derek Walcott Square – For travelers who are more interested in the rich history of the locale, this public square and park is a good choice. Named after a Nobel laureate poet, the park is a quiet place to enjoy the Saint Lucia vibes while taking a bit of the country’s past. 
  4. The Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception – This cathedral is conveniently located in Derek Walcott Square, so it’s a perfect next step on your Castries itinerary. Tourists may enter the cathedral, which is actually the largest church in the Caribbean, and take in the architecture and murals within.
  5. Gros Piton Hike – Last but not least, adventurous travelers and those wanting to take in as much of the natural environment as possible will enjoy the Gros Piton Hike. This 4-hour trek lands you in perfect view of the Caribbean Sea, as well as Saint Lucia’s mountains and villages. Note that this is a moderate-strenuous level hike.

In Conclusion

The capital of Saint Lucia is Castries, which became the official capital city in the 1960s. When Saint Lucia gained independence from the United Kingdom in the 1970s, the city retained its capital status, and the harbor has been busy for centuries. 

If you’re thinking of visiting the capital of this Caribbean island nation, consider checking out the beautiful views with a hike, eating at the Castries Market, or taking in the serene environment of Vigie Beach. 

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!