The Royal Naval Dockyard in Sandys Parish is the first port of call of many tourists to Bermuda and it is a great place where to start your visit of the island. Amongst the many attractions of the complex, the Bermuda Maritime Museum – also called the National Museum of Bermuda since 2009 – is a great resource for whoever wants to know more about the maritime history of the island.
The building that hosts the Museum is called The Keep and was the fortress that was originally protecting the dockyard. It is the largest in Bermuda with walls 30 feet high and it covers a surface of 10 acres of land. Inside this museum officially inaugurated in 1975 by Queen Elizabeth II, you’ll find the most extensive artifact collections of Bermuda as well as historic exhibits.
Visitors are greeted by a 3-meter high statue of King Neptune standing on the parade ground. The original figure comes from the wreck of the HMS Irresistible that sunk 1891 and it was rebuilt in limestone. There are six buildings within the walls of the fortress, the Queen’s Exhibition Hall, the Forster Cooper Building, the Shell House, the Shifting House, the Boat Loft and the Commissioner’s House.
One of the island’s most important buildings is the Commissioner’s House. The Georgian house dating from the 1820’s is thought to be the first cast-iron structure built in the world. It was restored and saved from dereliction by the restoration of the museum and consists of a ground floor made of limestone and brick rooms dedicated to the island’s military history; and two floors featuring mahogany mouldings where exhibits off Bermuda art.
The reviews at Trip Advisor say the Museum is:
“Very informative and interesting; great old stone buildings; some great exhibits”.
Thanks to the different exhibits on at the Bermuda Maritime Museum, you can learn about the creation of the Royal Naval dockyard, the dangerous reefs that got sailors giving Bermuda the name of Isle of Devils, you will see collections of over 2000 antique bottles collected around the island and some precious items found in 16th and 17th centuries shipwrecks, especially the famous Pectoral Cross recovered by most known Bermuda’s diver Teddy Tucker in 1955.
You can also walk around the defences, including ramparts and seven bastions, lettered from ‘A’ to ‘G’, that defended the fort and were mounted with 32-pound and 24-pound cannons, 8-inch shell guns and 6-inch BL barrels, that were designed by the Royal Engineers to have panoramic views of Bermuda and the Atlantic Ocean.
Bermuda Maritime Museum, Sandys – Part of Elbow Beach Cycles ‘Things To Do’ in Bermuda series!
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