Spanish Town, which was called St Jago de la Vega when it was founded by the Spanish in 1534, remained the island’s capital under the English until 1872. It sits nineteen kilometres west of Kingston and these days contains only vestigial traces of its former glory. The town itself lies west of the Rio Cobre, with Burke Road, the main highway from Kingston, running across its southern end, fifteen minutes’ walk from the central square. Once here, the main sights can easily be explored on foot, as the city is still laid out on its original neat grid system. Although it has its volatile hotspots, and attracts few tourists, it’s still worth a half-day visit, preferably however with a tour guide.
When leaving Spanish Town, it’s possible to pass the old Iron Bridge that spans the Rio Cobre on the eastern end of town, just up the road from the Prison Oval on Burke Road. No longer in use for vehicular traffic, the bridge was cast in England by British engineer Thomas Wilson at a cost of £4,000 and erected after the prefabricated parts were shipped to Jamaica in 1802. At 25 metres long and 4.5 metres wide, standing on a cut stone abutment, it was the first of its kind in the western hemipshere and now, because of its state of disrepair is on the UNESCO endangered monuments list.