The Magnificent 7, a visitors delight in Trinidad and Tobago
September 8th, 2016, Posted by travelwith2ofus
I always tell people that the Caribbean is more than just the brightly lit sun, white sand and turquoise sea. In fact, if you look beyond that you will see so many amazing things that make these islands unique. Music, food, its people and architecture are among those. Yes I said Architecture!
One of the things that a lot of visitors to the Caribbean miss is its architecture. Influenced by European visitors like the Spanish, French, English and the Dutch, you can find many beautiful buildings on many of the islands.
If you travel to Trinidad and Tobago you can find a group of architectural gems referred to as the Magnificent Seven. It is a group of buildings that stretch from the corner of Hayes Street along the Queens Park Savannah (West) and ends at the corner of Serpentine Road in the capital, Port of Spain. In its heyday the seven buildings were a sight to behold and while some of the buildings are as beautiful as the day they were completed, some are in need of a little TLC.
Queen's Royal College
The building, which is home to one of the top colleges in Trinidad and Tobago, Queen's Royal College or known locally as QRC, was opened in 1904. One of the most striking of the Magnificent Seven the main block was fully restored in 2009 and features a clock tower with a clock that chimes. Apparently during its restoration emphasis was placed on maintaining its original colors so paint was actually removed from the walls to get a perfect match. The result after the restoration is clear to see, as the building is as beautiful as when it was first built.
Second of the seven, located just after Queen's Royal College, it was actually the last one to be built and was designated as the official residence of the Anglican Bishop of Port of Spain. It takes its name from Bishop Thomas Hayes, who incidentally never lived in the building because he died before it was completed. Today, unfortunately the building is in need of repairs even though a restoration project was started in 2014. Despite this it is still a striking and beautiful building.
Roomor as it is more popularly known, is the only one of the seven buildings that have remained as a private residence. The building is mainly constructed of wood and you have got to say that this is some remarkable woodwork. It was originally built in 1904 and most of the decorative elements like the tiles were imported from France, while the marble was imported from Italy. It looks in good shape, but can you imagine the cost of maintaining this wood structure?
Also built in 1904, Mille Fleurs is in desperate need of renovation, but despite its present condition it happens to be one of the buildings with amazing details and quality finishing. To be honest it is not as extravagant as the other buildings, but certainly deserves it places among the seven. The sad news is that may not be around for long. It would definitely be a tragedy if it is lost even if replaced by a replica.
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Built in 1903, the house was redesigned during the period from 1968 – 1969. Concrete replaced the original wooden panel walls with some other additions to the structure. However, care was taken to preserve at least some elements of the original design. Archbishop's House, together with Queen's Royal College and Stollmeyer's Castle are three of my favorite of the Magnificent Seven buildings. Today it still stands out and is the official residence of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Port of Spain.
Originally called Rosenweg and built in 1904, this member of the Mag Seven is also in need of some TLC, even though it was restored back in 2000. It was once the largest of the private residences on the block and one of the features that make it outstanding for me is the use of white stone in its construction. Once used by the US Armed Forces as it Army Headquarters the building was also used as the Office of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago until 2009.
The last of the lot, Stollmeyer's Castle looks like a castle from a fairy-tale storybook or perhaps something from medieval times. Restoration work was last carried out in the late 1990s and from what I have seen the exterior looks in good shape.
Construction of the building was completed in 1904 and the designed is based after a wing of Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Like Whitehall, US Armed Forces also occupied Stollmeyer's Castle during the Second World War.
So, if you are in Trinidad and Tobago take a walk around the Queens Park Savannah in the capital Port of Spain, have a look at the Magnificent Seven, but don't limit yourself to just those, there are many other buildings and places of interest around “the Savannah,” as it is locally known.
If you are visiting with your children, then you should check out the Emperor Valley Zoo on the northern side of the Savannah. If you love flowers, plants and trees check out the Royal Botanic Gardens, it is located footsteps away from the zoo. You can also check out Memorial Park, which is about a thirty minute leisurely walk from the botanic gardens. The park is a memorial dedicated to nationals who served and lost their lives during military service in World Wars I and II. Just opposite the park you can find the National Museum and Arts Gallery. It has a collection of over 10,000 pieces, including items of art, social, natural and economic history as well as information on petroleum and geology.
If you want to stay fit you can do like the locals and have a walk or jog around the Savannah. Which by-the-way is touted in some circles as the biggest roundabout in the world; of course Malaysia will have none of that because they are lying claim with their roundabout the Persiaran Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah. They definitely win the title for the longest name.
The Queens Park Savannah is the ideal location to spend a day while visiting Trinidad and Tobago.
Have you ever visited Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain and the Magnificent Seven? Let us know what you thought about the buildings.
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