Fort Christiansvaern

Photo of yellow fort taken from under a tree with coudy sky.
Fort Christiansvaern

NPS Photo: Kahle

Quick Facts
Christiansted National Historic Site
Once a sign of military might, and one of oppression, today Christiansted National Historic Site is part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
National Historic Site

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Built between 1738-1749 on the site of a French fortification that was destroyed in a hurricane, Fort Christiansvaern served to protect the interests of the Danish West India and Guinea Company’s and Danish assets in Christiansted.  The fort defended the island of St. Croix and Christiansted from piracy and privateers. It served many roles over the centuries: housing the first Danish governors, a prison, an instrument of mass oppression and eventually a place of liberation.

On the south side of the fort is a triangular shaped area; this is called the "ravelin.”  The ravelin would split attacking enemy forces.

A red guard stand is next to the green doors to the fort. Next to the guard stand is a somber reminder that despite the vivid bright colors, Fort Christiansvaern also harbored a darker side. A section of ground is exposed marking the location of the whipping post, where enslaved people were publicly brutalized as a sign of force and oppression.

The last major additions to Fort Christiansvaern were completed between 1835–1841. The original fabric of the fort remains largely unaltered. In the 1830s, a stable yard was added to the east of the fort and a walled prison yard to the west. It served as the focal point of the Danish presence and control on the island. Fort Christiansvaern is one of the best-preserved colonial forts in the Caribbean and is the largest structure at the historic site. 

Christiansted National Historic Site

Last updated: December 12, 2023