Castries

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{service, military, aircraft}
{water, park, boat}
{island, water, area}
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{ship, engine, design}
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{war, force, army}
{country, population, people}
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{town, population, incorporate}

Castries (pronounced /ˈkæstriːz/), population 10,634, aggl. 37,963 (2001-05-12), is the capital city of Saint Lucia, a country in the West Indies. The district with the same name had a population of 61,341 in 2001-05-22, and stretches over an area of 30.5 square miles (79 km2).

Castries is located in a flood gut and is actually built on reclaimed land. It houses the seat of government and the head offices of many of the businesses both foreign and local. The city's design is in a grid pattern similar to a metropolitan city like New York but on a much smaller scale. It has a sheltered harbour which receives cargo vessels and ferry boats as well as cruise ships. It contains duty free shopping facilities such as Point Seraphine and La Place Carinage; many restaurants which offer varied menus from local to Chinese; supermarkets and many other shopping facilities. The city is well serviced by a bus system and taxi service.

St Lucia's main post office is located in Castries. Because most parts of the country do not use standard street addresses, mail is largely sent to P.O. boxes. Any mail sent without a town name ends up in the Castries post office.

Contents

History

Castries was founded by the French in 1650 as "Carenage" (meaning safe anchorage), then renamed in 1756 after Charles Eugène Gabriel de La Croix, marquis de Castries, commander of a French expeditionary force to Corsica that year. The earlier settlement across the harbor at Vigie, started in 1651, was abandoned after a devastating hurricane in 1780. From 1803 to 1844 the British made the town a major naval port and built fortifications on Morne Fortune, the mountain which overlooks this important harbor. By 1844, Castries had a population of 4,000. By the end of the century it had become a major coaling station, because it was the only port in the Caribbean capable of accommodating the Royal Navy.

During WWII, a German U-boat sailed into Castries harbor and sank two allied ships. Castries has been rebuilt many times, following major fires in 1796 and 1813, and most notably on June 19, 1948.

Tourism

One of the major tourist areas in St. Lucia, Castries is a port of call for cruise ships. Cruise ships dock at Pointe Seraphine, to the north of the harbour which is also a duty free shopping centre. A taxi service is readily available to take you on tours of the rest of the country or the city. There is also a water taxi available to take you from there to the city as well. The greatest concentration of hotels, resorts, and restaurants are near Castries and the island's other main towns, Gros Islet, Soufrière, and Rodney Bay. The city maintains three tourist offices, and one in the airport. There are also many duty free shops within the town itself and several restaurants and other eating establishments including Burger King, Dominoes and KFC.

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