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Home Our Heritage, Our Monuments National Monuments

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National Monuments

A monument includes any building, structure, object or other work of man or of nature whether above or below the surface of the land or the floor of the sea within the territorial waters of Guyana and any site, cave or excavation.  Monuments are as varied as their creators. They represent the hopes or aspirations of the people built to withstand the sands of times. National monuments are the vested responsibility of the National Trust and are gazetted as such, after cabinet has approved them. At present there are nine gazetted national monuments in Guyana.

 


 

Fort Zeelandia

FORT ZEELANDIA & THE COURT OF POLICY

Approximately 16 km from the mouth of the mighty Essequibo River  is  Fort  Island.  On this island  are two  structures:   Fort  Zeelandia  and   the  Court of  Policy   or Dutch  Church. During the period of Dutch   occupation the Fort and the Court of  Policy  were part of a large urban settlement that  extended along the northeastern section of the island.  This  was the seat  of the Dutch administration in the colony of Essequibo.

Fort Zeelandia was constructed in 1744. It was constructed to protect the  interests of  the Dutch West  India Company  from European rivals such as the English and French who frequented the eastern coast  of   South America in search of the spoils of war. In addition it   was meant to serve as a stronghold against internal forces such as  rebellious slaves.

 

Ramparts of Fort Zeelandia

This brick fort which replaced a  wooden structure was constructed in accordance to a design  by the  then secretary of the colony  of  Essequibo Laurens Storm Vans Gravesande (the colony’s longest serving Dutch Commandeur 1738 – 1776)  to conserve funds.  It  is  said   that   the   design  ‘followed   a      pattern     lozenge-shaped forts  which   were  common in West Africa during that period'. Within the compound  of   the   Fort are the  Armory  used for the storage of ammunition and several canons reminiscent of the belligerent history of the site.

 

The Court of PolicyCOURT OF POLICY
The   Court  of Policy   served  multiple functions. It was a store and at the same time    a church, court,  seat  of government and  a sales office.  Inside the Court of Policy are the tombs of three Dutch Officials.  It is the oldest non – military   structure    in    Guyana.   To   this day   church services are held there.

 


FORT NASSAU
This   fort was   constructed on the eastern bank of the Berbice River circa 1627 by Abraham Van Pere [a Dutch merchant] and his colonists . This    was the seat   of   Government in Berbice which   was governed   as   a separate  colony    prior   to  the unification    of    the  three colonies Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice in 1831.

 

This   fort    was   constructed of    wood    and   enclosed with  palisades.     The     fort    had      an      'irregular    rectangular redoubt   wherein      was   a   larger    stone    building.' The barracks  were    built    to house about 60 soldiers. The main building  in  the fort  had two floors. The Governor, Captain of the Troops,  the Secretary  and two Lieutenants  lived  on  the upper floor. There was a Council Chamber and Church Hall on the  first  floor.  The  Fort was  surrounded  by  outhouses for servants   and   petty  officials.

 

In 1712 it was demolished when Baron   de Mouans’ corsairs threw bombs   into it and held    Berbice at ransom. A new fort was constructed. During the slave revolt of 1763 it was burnt by Governor  Van Hoogenheim and his soldiers to prevent the slave rebels from acquiring it.

 


FORT KYK-OVER-Al
This was erected at Cartabo Point in the Esssequibo River and  appears to be the earliest   Dutch    fort. Various historians give different dates    of construction. Hartsinck claims that work on the fort commenced in 1613 and finished  about    1623   while Major   John Scott claims that   it    was started in 1616.

It is claimed that the building was finally completed by 1623 - 1627.

The   ruins    of    the fort   revealed that it was not very large. The ground floor  was used as  a storehouse and a magazine for food imports,  goods received  from the   Indians  and   ammunition..

There were three rooms on the top floor –one for the soldiers, one for the Commandeur, and  one  for the Secretary. All that remains of  this fort is an   arch.  There were provision grounds around the fort  and   benabs for   the conduct of trade with the indigenous Indians who  brought cotton, tobacco, annatto, balsam copaibo, etc. to satisfy the demands of the Dutch.

It    is claimed   that originally   the    fort   was named Fort ter Hoogen after “an Influential Dutch gentleman but its name was later   changed   to Kyk-over-al," as   a result   of   its  strategic location that allowed for the view over the Essequibo River and its tributaries.

 


STATE HOUSE
This house with its 100 windows was built during the 1820s on land belonging to the Anglican Church in British Guiana. Several governors   including, Governor   Lyght and Governor Barclay, resided there.  A  rent of 240.00 pounds each month was paid by the governors who resided there.

In  1852 and 1863  ordinances   legislating   the purchase of the building  to establish a   home  for  the British  governors  were passed. The  original building  had  two storeys  and  a  double stairway and faced Carmichael Street.

Over  time  many changes were made to the building. Adjacent lots numbers  57   to   60   on Main    Street   and 93 to 95 on Carmichael   Street.

By   1894,   the   present building’s main entrance was in  Main Street. Known as 'the Grande Dame of Main Street' this  elegant wooden building exhibits fine wooden architecture. many of the ornate designs of the interior of the building are credited to Caesar Castellani, one of the most prolific architects of the colonial era. Restored to its former glory this house is now the official residence of the President of Guyana.

 


UMANA YANA & AFRICAN LIBERATION MONUMENT
In 1972, members of the Non -  Aligned Movement and Third World Nations chose Guyana as host of the first meeting of the Non  - Aligned Nations. This was the first meeting of its kind to be held  in  the hemisphere.   Hosts  of previous  meetings  had staged their affairs in buildings, which can only  be described as ‘glittering showcases.’

A committee of government officials was assembled to identify a building to accommodate the conference. Guyana  as  host to the prestigious event was unable to afford the construction of a brick  or   concrete   building  and  time  would  not  permit the erection of a new wooden building. In light of these constraints the idea of an Amerindian benab enthused the committee.

The lawns of the former Mariners’ Club, at the northeastern end of High Street where it met with Battery Road, was selected as the ideal location  for the benab, that was to be  constructed  in the classic pattern of the benab built at Konashen  by the Wai – Wai people.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was charged with the  responsibility  for the  construction  of  the  benab, with the assistance  of  the  Department of  Interior  Development. The materials and work force were to be secured from the interior. Wai Wai Chief Elka and sixty odd Amerindians were recruited for the execution of this task.  An architect was  then commissioned to prepare plans for the building that would house the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Non Aligned Nations.

A circular area of the lawn, about 26.8 metres in diameter was cleared of grass and excavated, the soil leveled and compacted to  a  smooth  hard finish by the Wai -  Wai  who ‘stomped the ground, feet  unshod,  moving rhythmically forward, backward and round and round  as  in  a sort of tribal dance’. Sand was then  placed  over  the  area and  a  concrete  foundation  slab; complete with  holes  for  the insertion of  the  poles was  laid  to protect the st

ructure from dampness, given the nature of the shallow water table of the coastal soils.

Poles straight  as  arrows, round  wood saplings, vines and lush green troolie fronds culled from palm trees growing in profusion in swamp lands upriver  were   used by the  Wai  - Wai. They climbed the smooth poles with remarkable agility, sat astride the round  wood  grids, or  hung   bat - like with  stocky  legs  high above the ground to secure the materials utilising the techniques used  by  their  countless  generations  in   the  construction  of buildings. Unlike the tradi tional Amerindian building, nails were used  to   secure   the    roof  against   wind pressures given its location.

After  only  eighty  days  the  Umana Yana was completed at a modest cost of $26,000.00. On 8 August 1972,   the   flags of more than 80 nations fluttered proudly along the eastern edge of the Umana Yana’s   compound as the meeting   of    the Non - Aligned  Nations   commenced.     Like   sands of the time, the Umana Yana is an eloquent reminder of    the   diversity of our culture, a reflection of the lifestyles   between    the    indigenous peoples   and    the    western    oriented  dwellers   of the city.

On 26 August 1974, ‘Namibia Day’ former President Forbes Burnham unveiled the African Liberation Monument in memory ‘ of all of those who have struggled and continue to struggle for the freedom of Human Bondage.’ This   monument   consists of five polished greenheart logs   encased in a jasper   stand   on a granite boulder.

The varying heights of the logs are representative of the different ages of the martyrs; the slab of granite represents the strength of the freedom movement and the pebbles around the base of the monument represent the millions of peoples who are involved in the fight of human bondage.

 


NON - ALIGNED MONUMENT
The monument commemorates the 1972 Conference of Foreign Ministers of   Non-Aligned    countries    when    it was held in Guyana, 8 – 11 August, 1972. The monument was unveiled by His Excellency, Mr. Arthur Chung, the first President of Guyana in honour   of  the founders   of    the   Non - Aligned Movement: President Gamal Abdel  Nasser  of  Egypt,  President  Kwame Nkrumah  of  Ghana,  President  Pandit  Jawaharlall  Nehru of India and President Josip Broz  Tito of Yugoslavia; the leaders who initiated the conference of Afro- Asian countries.

There are four busts sculpted to the likeness of the founders of the    Non-Aligned  Movement,  three are of bronze and one of plastic. These were  sculpted  in the  countries  from  which  the founder  leaders  originated.  They  are mounted on a concrete plinth with a base made  of  quartz stone  from  the  Mazaruni district. Four jasper rocks from the Orinduik waterfall adorn the front of the monument in a pool decorated with colourful stones from the riverbeds of Guyana.

 


RED HOUSE (KAMANA COURT)

This  building with its distinctive red colour is    situated in High Street, Kingston between Young and Barrack Streets. It is built of timber (pitch-pine) and is covered with red wallaba shingles. It is not certain whether the verandah and the ground floor were part of the original building.

The Red House  was acquired in 1925 by the Colony of British Guiana.   Sir Eustace Woolford, a Speaker of the   Legislature, was one of  the early owners  of  the  house. Between  1925 to 1953, numerous Colonial Secretaries resided there.

Dr. Cheddi Jagan also lived there from 1961 to 1964 while he served as Premier of British Guiana. Subsequently from 1965 to   the    early   1990's     the    Red     House   was    used  as  government offices e.g. the   Public Service Ministry. The house was left vacant until 1999 when the Cheddi   Jagan    Research Centre was established in the building.

 


1763 MONUMENT
This monument was unveiled by former President Burnham on 23 May 1976. It commemorates the 1763 slave  rebellion; the first revolt that came close to success. Cuffy as   the   leader of this insurrection has been declared to be one of our national heroes. His legacy has been immortalized in bronze.

Philip Moore    was  the sculptor of this   impressive work  of art. The monument is 10.1 meters (33 feet) high and  is  built on a concrete plinth designed by Albert Rodrigues. It    symbolizes the struggle of the Guyanese people for their liberation. It is situated at the eastern end of Brickdam.

 


ST. GEORGES CATHEDRAL
This   Gothic  cathedral 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.

At a cost of  $160,000.00 this   cathedral   was designed   by  Mr. Arthur   Blomfield    of Montague Square, London. The church  was  opened  on 26 March, 1893. Constructed from greenheart and    English oak, the original    edifice     had an Elizabethan look before its studs and  bracing    were    covered with greenheart siding. On account of the excess weight  placed on the building's foundation the greenheart sidings were removed.

The church has a beautiful  wrought-iron chancel   screen, rose window and stained glass panels on   the eastern    side  of the building.   This 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.

 

 

 

To conserve, preserve and promote the nation’s patrimony so that the present and future generations will access and enjoy the richness of Guyana’s heritage.

National Trust of Guyana
94 Carmichael Street
Cummingsburg,
Guyana.
South America.
Tel: (592) 225-5071
or (592)-223-7146
Fax:  (592) 223-7146

nationaltrustgy@gmail.com