It is the belief that the Spanish were the first European to have sailed the Guiana Coast, but it was the Dutch who established the first permanent settlement by erecting trading posts and forts.
At the junction of the Mazaruni and Cuyuni Rivers is Fort Kyk- Over- Al (see over all) located on the small island, which is approximately 1.5 acres in size. The island was once the seat of government for the colony of Essequibo under the period of Dutch occupation in the 17th century. It is said to have been the smallest fort ever built by the Dutch overseas.
This fort was erected some time after Berbice was settled by a private merchant, Abraham Van Pere, in 1627. Very little is known about the fort itself or the activities at the settlement, other than the fact that it successfully repelled an English attack in 1665. However, an account by Adrian Van Berkel in 1670 indicates that the colonists dwelt on their own plantations rather than at the centralised settlement. There seems to have been very little there other than a fort with a commandeur's house and its accompanying citrus groves. In 1785 the decision was taken to abandon the Fort Nassau area, and the residents of the settlement subsequently were relocated to the present town of New Amsterdam.
Mission Chapel Congregational Church
The Mission Church was first located at Fort Nassau some sixty-five miles up the Berbice River and in 1814 it was floated down the river on a raft to New Amsterdam.
Mission Chapel, a Congregational Church, emerged out of the old Mission Church and was erected on its present location between 1814 and 1815. This new church was opened by 1819 by the Rev. John Wray, and was the first church to open its doors to slaves. The history of the church dates back to around 1812 when Rev. Wray paid a visit to the Berbice slaves and was inspired to stay and help teach them.
As Andrew’s Kirk
St. Andrews Kirk is the oldest building in Georgetown, Guyana and continues to be used for religious purposes. The Dutch Reformed congregation laid the foundation of the church in 1811. However, due to financial difficulties it was acquired by Scottish Presbyterians and was formally opened for service on 28 February 1818. It was the first church built by the Europeans in which slaves were allowed to worship. It is situated near the Parliament Building on the north eastern corner of Brickdam.
St George’s Cathedral
This building holds the distinction of being the tallest timber church in the world standing at 43.6 m (143 feet tall). The cathedral was built between 1877 and 1892. Its foundation stone was laid on 21 November, 1889 and it was consecrated on the 50th Anniversary of the Bishop on St. Bartholomew’s Day, August 24, 1892.
The church has a beautiful wrought-iron chancel screen, rose window and stained glass panels on the eastern side of the building. The present cathedral is the fourth building constructed by the Anglican Diocese in Guyana. It is built in the shape of a cruciform of greenheart wood. The nave and roofs are sustained by iron columns in Gothic style reminiscent of the cathedrals in London.
Umana Yana is a Wai Wai word for Meeting Place of the People. It is 55ft tall and was built by a group of Wai Wai Indians in 1972. This type of Amerindians thatched hut is called a Benab.
In 1972, members of the Non-Aligned Movement and Third World Nations chose Guyana to host the first meeting of the Movement. Guyana, as host to the prestigious event was unable to afford the construction of a brick or concrete building and time did not permit for the erection of a new wooden building and the idea of an Amerindian benab found favour with the officials. The lawn of the former Mariners Club, at the North Eastern end of High Street, where it meets Battery Road, was selected as the ideal location for the Umana Yana. It was constructed in the classic pattern of the one built at Koashen by the Wai Wai people.
The Non-Aligned monument is located in the park in front of St. George’s cathedral.During the Conference of Foreign Ministers of Non-Aligned countries held in Guyana from August 8-11, 1972, a monument to the four founders of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM):President Nasser of Egypt, President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, President Jawaharlal Nehru of India, and President Tito of Yugoslavia, was erected in this garden and unveiled by the then President, Arthur Chung.
The 1763 monument
The 1763 monument commemorates the 1763 slave rebellion on plantation Magdelenneburg, Berbice. Constructed at a cost of $38,000.00, this monument was unveiled by former President, Linden Forbs Burnham on the occasion of Guyana’s 10th Independence Anniversary celebrations on 23rd May 1976. Mr. Philip Moore was the sculptor of this impressive work of art. The monument weights 2.5tons and is 15ft high. It stands on 18 ft concrete plinth designed by Albert Rodrigues. The plinth is adorned with five bronze plaques which depict the themes: Seeking inspiration, uniting the people, destroying the enemies, control and praise and thanksgiving. This unique piece of art is an eloquent reminder of our rich heritage, worthy of preservation for the benefit of future generations.
The Stabroek Market
The Stabroek market, Guyana's oldest was named by the Dutch in honour of the directors of the Dutch West India Company, Nicholas Van Gleenisnk Lord of Castricum, Bahim and Stabroek, stands as an eloquent reminder of the nation's cultural and social heritage.Different accounts of the existence of a market are given - enslaved Africans sold their products, primarily plantains and other staple foods, on Sundays from this location. Though this was one of the earliest references to the market, it is possible that indigenous Indians and enslaved Africans may have operated little markets along the banks of the Brandwaght, which was erected by the Dutch to secure the activities of the river.
The Band Stand
This bandstand which is strategically located in the centre of the spacious grounds of the Promenade Gardens was erected in 1897 by the Corporation of Georgetown in commemoration of Her Majesty Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
The Water Wheel
After the English invasion in the year 1803, John Patterson, a Scottish Engineer came to this country at the invitation of the English, to set up living quarters for Government officials. Patterson chose Christianburg, Linden for his logging operations, using slaves, Dutch settlers and Amerindians as his work force.
In these early days Patterson transported logs by tying them together alongside a punt in which he and his wife lived, and using slaves with paddles and oars transported the logs down the river. Such trips lasted more than a week and many of the slaves, inexperienced as they were, lost their lives along the way.
Visitors who visit the Essequibo Coast will be fortunate to see the Damon Monument located at the Anna Regina car park. This monument represents the heroic African domestic laborer Damon who was executed for his role in the protest against a new system of apprenticeship
Labourers went on strike on the 3rd August 1834, declaring that they were free and would only work for half a day. Damon, who was their leader, raised a flag to represent the labourers in the Trinity Church Yard at La Belle Alliance, which they had occupied during the protest.
He was hanged at the Parliament Building at noon on Monday, 13 October 1834. He was indeed an idol and will be remembered for his quest for freedom.
This simple concrete cross is believed to mark the spot where Damon, an enslaved African was buried after being executed for his role in the 1823 Demerara uprising.