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Let's take you on a short tour of Georgetown. Georgetown - Guyana's capital city and chief port - is situated on the right bank of the estuary of the Demerara River. This site was originally chosen as a Fort to guard the early Dutch settlements of the Demerara River.
The city of Georgetown was designed largely by the Dutch and is laid out in a rectangular pattern with wide tree-lined avenues and irrigation canals, that crisscross the city. Most of the city's historical buildings are wooden in construction, reflecting the unique 18th and 19th century architecture. A leisurely walk around Georgetown will provide several excellent examples of Guyana's colonial architecture.
Our tour begins at the Hadfield Street end of the Avenue of the Republic at parliament Building, which was designed by Joseph Hadfield and constructed in 1833. At this site Guyana's emancipated slaves purchased for the first time, their own land. To this day, Parliament still meets at this historic site, and most recently was addressed by Queen Elizabeth the Second during her four-day state visit to Guyana in February 1994.
A short walk to the west of Parliament Building will take you to Guyana's largest and busiest market Stabroek, which is housed both on land and water. The name Stabroek is derived from the Guyana's Dutch ancestry and the building was originally built of wood. The new market was designed and built by two American firms. Once described as a "Bizarre Bazaar" anything from gold jewelry to fruits and vegetables can be found.
Heading up Croal Street back towards the Avenue of the Republic lies the Law Courts designed by C. Castellani and opened on May 24th, 1887. In front of the courts stands a statue of Queen Victoria, a tribute to Guyana's British ancestry. Obliquely opposite the Law Courts is St. Andrew's Kirk, the oldest surviving structure of any church in Guyana, which was built in 1829. Travelling north up Avenue of the Republic and adjacent to the Law Courts is City Hall, which houses the administrative offices of the City of Georgetown. This building is a splendid example of Gothic architecture, designed by the Very Reverend Father Ignatius Scoles S.J. The foundation stone was laid on December 23, 1887 and the building was opened on July 1, 1889.
No walk through the city of Georgetown would be complete without a visit to St. George's Cathedral, one of the tallest free-standing wooden buildings in the world. Located a few yards up the promenade from City Hall, St. George's was designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield and the foundation stone was laid on November 21, 1889. A glimpse of the Cathedral's interior is highly recommended as the story of the building is told on its interior walls on tablets and memorials of a historical and sentimental nature. It is the tale of the history of Guyana and of the Diocese in particular. In front of St. George's Cathedral is Company Path Gardens, a tribute to the founding leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement. Guyana hosted the historic 1972 Non-Aligned Heads of Government Conference.
Turning west along the Avenue and past the Bank of Guyana you will find the Guyana National Museum, which contains a broad selection of our animal life and heritage. Leaving the museum by the same route brings you back onto the Avenue which leads into Main Street and the principal shopping area. A walk along Main Street's tree-lined Avenue will take you past shops and some of Georgetown's most beautiful historical buildings and fine examples of classic 18th and 19th century architecture made of wood. Many buildings have Demerara Shutters (louvered wooden shutters with window boxes enclosed in fret work). Begin at the Park Hotel, continuing to the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology and of course "State House." Originally the home of the British Governor, it is now the official residence of the President of Guyana. Further along Main Street is The Prime Minister's Residence. Formerly owned by Booker Brothers, it was said that the Director of Bookers would watch the ships come in from this house and that the captains were aware of this and would ensure that the port side of their ships were always painted.
The unusual structure at the top of the street is the Umana Yana or "meeting place of the people," a thatched benab built by the Wai Wai Indians for the Heads of the Non-Aligned Movement Conference in 1972. The final stop along your walk is the sea wall, which was built to protect the city from the sea, as the coast land is seven feet below sea level.
Georgetown has many more interesting sites to visit which are not included in this short tour. A more comprehensive City Tour is available through any of the Tour Operators registered with the Tourism Association of Guyana.
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