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St Thomas Historic 99 Steps

As the transportation hub of the US Virgin Islands, most visitors will land at St. Thomas even if they won’t linger around for long. For tourists who stay on the island, they get to enjoy various attractions, including pristine accommodations and beaches as well as duty-free shopping centers and wide-ranging water sports.

Generally, St. Thomas mixes the laid-back Caribbean vibe with the modernities of metropolitan society, creating a unique paradise for the millions of tourists who flock to the US Virgin Islands yearly.

If you arrive in St. Thomas by ship, one of the first sights will be the town of Charlotte Amalie, which is the capital city of the island. The town is among the busiest cruise ports in the US Virgin Islands and is a top tourist destination due to its rich history.

It features cobblestone streets and colonial-era establishments, which serve as reminders of pirate occupations and Danish rule. One of the more notable remnants of this era is the walkway known as the 99 Steps, which climbs the hillside towards the landmark Blackbeard’s Castle.

Read on to discover more information about the 99 Steps, including how they were constructed and the amenities you may enjoy during your visit to the coveted location.

The History of the 99 Steps

The 99 Steps, listed on old maps as Greater Tower Street, are one of the numerous stair-stepped streets in the island, which the Danish called frigangs.

These steps connect the waterfront to hillside dwellings, which were quite popular during the Danish era. Between Hotel 1829 and Government House lies the foot of the famed step-street. The Danes began constructing the stairwell in the 1700s to ease navigation around the hilly island of St. Thomas.

They used Danish-made bricks that were originally used as ships’ ballast before being repurposed as building materials. Although the stairway is popularly known as the 99 Steps, it comprises 103 steps, but you may be too out of breath to count if you ever visit the location.

Today, it’s primarily a sightseeing delight. It offers an opportunity to enjoy walk tours that may entail visiting other historical landmarks such as the Emancipation Park, Fort Christian, and the St. Thomas Synagogue, which is the second oldest in the Western Hemisphere. A breathtaking view of the island also awaits you if you manage to climb the steps to the top.

What is at the top of the 99 Steps in St. Thomas?

Perched atop the historic 99 Steps in St. Thomas stands the legendary Blackbeard’s Castle, an intriguing attraction that beckons visitors with its rich history and captivating allure. This iconic USVI landmark, also known as Skytsborg Tower, offers a glimpse into the island’s pirate past and provides a panoramic view of Charlotte Amalie and the surrounding Caribbean Sea. 

Visitors to Blackbeard’s Castle can learn about the stories of some of the most infamous pirates in history. The castle is home to exhibits and displays showcasing the exploits of notorious buccaneers, including Blackbeard. Guests can explore the history of piracy in the Caribbean and learn about the daring raids and battles on the high seas. From Henry Morgan’s exploits to Captain Kidd’s legend, there are countless tales of piracy and adventure to discover at Blackbeard’s Castle. 

Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking for a fun and educational experience, this attraction will captivate and inspire visitors of all ages.

Popular Places You Can Visit Near the 99 Steps

Even though you may enjoy huffing and puffing your way up the stairway, you can enjoy other attractions near the 99 Steps once your hike is finished. Here are some of the locations you should probably consider visiting.

  • Frederick Lutheran Church

Constructed in 1820, the Frederick Lutheran Church features a combination of neo-classical and Gothic revival architecture that has retained much of its original ambiance over the years.

It also has gracious steps, an arched doorway, breathtaking stained windows, and an elaborate bell tower that dates back to the days of the Danish regime in the Virgin Islands.

The church was the Danish state church, and the Governor would step in for the minister occasionally. If you’re around the 99 Steps, you’re welcome to tour the church and attend the Sunday service.

  • The Virgin Islands Children’s Museum

If you’re touring the 99 Steps with your whole family, you should consider visiting The Virgin Islands Children’s Museum, which is just nearby. Opened in 2014, the museum focuses on instilling creative thinking and the freedom of expression into the developing minds of kids.

It features an array of specifically themed rooms, which allow children to play, solve puzzles, and discover more about various scientific inventions that have helped shape the modern world. Some of the most popular exhibitions include Mission Mechanical, Discover Tree Tower, and Playing With Light.

  • Government House

Located at the base of the 99 Steps, the Government House was built in 1867 to serve as a meeting point for the Danish Colonial Council. Its neoclassical white edifice buildings also housed the Governor’s residence.

You’re welcome to take a tour of the first floor, which is home to four small photos created by renowned impressionist painter Camille Pissaro. You can also stroll around the second-floor ballroom to marvel at its Baccarat chandeliers, breathtaking views of the city and harbor, and mahogany railings. However, you may need an appointment.

  • Emancipation Garden

This small city park primarily commemorates the emancipation of Danish Colony slaves, which took place in 1848 in St. Croix. It has a gazebo, where you may enjoy lunchtime concerts. The park also features the bust of Danish King Christian V and a replica of the famous Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

How To Get To 99 Steps St Thomas

If you plan to get to the famous 99 Steps in St. Thomas, there are a few ways to get there:

Walking: If you’re in the downtown area of Charlotte Amalie, you can easily walk to the steps. They are in the historic district, close to Main Street and the waterfront. Look for the entrance near the Government House.

Taxi: Taxis are readily available in St. Thomas and can take you directly to the 99 Steps. Inform the driver of your destination, and they will drop you off at the entrance.

Public Transportation: St. Thomas has public transportation in the form of open-air safari buses known as “safaris.” You can catch a safari near the waterfront or along Main Street and let the driver know you want to go to the 99 Steps. They will drop you off nearby.

Guided Tour: Joining a guided tour is another option. Many tours include a visit to the 99 Steps as part of their itinerary, allowing you to learn about the history and significance of the steps while exploring the area.

It’s important to note that the 99 Steps can be pretty steep, so wear comfortable shoes and take your time when climbing them. It may take approximately 5 to 10 minutes to ascend the steps.

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The 99 Steps in St Thomas was last modified: April 1st, 2024 by admin