Charlotte Amalie harbor is the perfect place for travelers to begin their journey through St. Thomas' history. Harborside since 1672, Fort Christian is the oldest standing structure in the Virgin Islands. Now a U.S. national landmaark, this brick fortress was built to protect the town's harbor from raiding European armadas which sailed the Caribbean centuries ago. Having once served as St. Thomas' first Government House, a church and community government center, Fort Christian today is the home to the Virgin Islands Museum, where early island memorabilia and old maps trace the islands' history.
While on Government Hill, travelers may also visit the former home of Peter von Scholten, who first was the harbor master of St. Thomas and later governor general of the Danish West Indies. Built in the 18th-century and now a private residence, Crown House is the stately, three-story West Indian structure von Scholten inhabited until 1822, when as governor he moved to Christiansted, St. Croix, then the capital of the Virgin Islands.
Also on Government Hill, Seven Arches Museum provides a glimpse into the 18th-century lifestyle of the island's Danish ancestors. Fully restored and furnished in Danish West Indian style, this once private home - with its Danish kitchen and slave quarters - reflects the life of leisure enjoyed by its former inhabitants.
Still on the upward climb, vacationers may continue on to visit Drake's Seat overlooking Drake's Passage, the channel where Sir Francis Drake sailed among the islands in the late 1500s. From this vantage point, visitors are treated to a breathtaking view of the harbor, where countless boats and cruise ships alike dot the island's port waters.
While touring St. Thomas' higher elevations, visitors may also treat themselves to a taste of more recent island history by stopping at Mountain Top for a famed banana daiquiri. Since the 1960s, the site has offered this legendary concoction of local rum, cane sugar and bananas - a mixture that continues to win fans who come to enjoy the sensational sights at the top of St. Thomas.
After a full day's sightseeing of these various landmarks, there is still more for the tireless traveler to experience on the island. A stroll through St. Thomas' Market Square - though today a bustling produce marketplace - is reminiscent of a time when the site was one of the West Indies' busiest 18th-century slave markets. Visitors may also walk through Emancipation Garden, appropriately named in commemoration of Governor Peter von Scholten's emancipation of the slaves on July 3, 1848.
Visitors to the USVI have much to see and even more to do when vacationing on St. Thomas. Whether soaking up the sun on one of its many beautiful beaches, shopping along the downtown waterfront or touring historical sites spanning nearly three centuries, vacationers have much to fill their days on the island.