Port Royal is a historical place located in Jamaica with many sites to see, the Giddy House was originally a Royal Artillery House meant to store weapons and gunpowder for the adjacent Victoria and Albert Battery.
The Earthquake of 1907 shifted it to its present 45 degree angle. On entering the building, people often feel a strange sensation of being giddy or off balance, caused by the building’s tilt, hence its name -the Giddy House.
This house can be found in the now beautiful Port Royal, one of Jamaica’s favourite places, once known as the “richest and wickedest” city on earth, Port Royal is now known as a small quiet fishing village. From pirates and wealth to earthquakes and peace, Port Royal has been transformed into perhaps the most peaceful city in Jamaica.
My visit to the giddy house was extraordinary, a memorable experience that I will never forget. My visit to Port Royal was more than to discover the wild lifestyle that the people of this rich and wicked city once lived, but to experience some of the rich history of Jamaica.
On the 7th of June 1692, Port Royal was struck by a massive earthquake and tidal wave. More than 2,000 people died and most of the buildings were destroyed with many literally falling into the sea or the huge crevices that opened up.
The tidal wave was so powerful that it lifted one vessel in the harbour and dropped it on the roofs of the ruined buildings. The causeway that connected Port Royal to the Palisadoes was also swept away.
Legend has it that the bell in the church tower which fell into the sea, can still sometimes be heard tolling from beneath the waves. The town was also gutted by fire in 1703, and many residents decided it was time to relocate.
The Royal Navy stayed on and Port Royal was their main Caribbean base until 1905. Because of the naval presence, there were also traders but these gradually moved to Kingston as the mainland settlement grew. Port Royal was hit by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 but escaped remarkable unscathed, and there are many buildings and museums to explore.
But the top attraction is Fort Charles. Built in 1662, this is the oldest building in Port Royal and is from the days of British occupation. The fort is also home to the Fort Charles Maritime Museum. You’ll find this museum in the former headquarters for the British Royal Navy where Admiral Horatio Nelson once served as a naval lieutenant in 1779.
Today the small museum includes a recreation of Nelson’s private quarters as well as other artefacts from the era, including models of various sailing vessels. St. Peter’s Church also a historical building was built to replace a church lost in the 1692 earthquake.
The church includes a silver communion service that is believed to have been donated by Sir Henry Morgan (pirate and later governor of Jamaica) but its most interesting feature is a grave located just outside. Whenever you happen to travel to Port Royal whether you are a local or a foreigner, be sure to check out these awesome historical places.