Founded as the sole Catholic colony in strongly Protestant America, and, in the nineteenth century, one of the most contentious slave states in the Union, MARYLAND has always been unique. Within its small, irregularly shaped geometry, its attractions range from the frantic boardwalk beaches of Ocean City to the sleepy fishing villages of the Chesapeake Bay and the little-known hamlets of the Eastern Shore. The Chesapeake Bay’s legendary blue crabs and sweet rockfish, served by roadside places in the Bay’s colonial-era towns, are additional reasons to drop in.
Maryland’s largest city is the busy port of Baltimore, a quirky metropolis with a revitalized urban waterfront, a thriving cultural scene and eclectic neighbourhoods. Western Maryland stretches over a hundred miles to the Appalachian foothills, its rolling farmlands notable chiefly for the Civil War killing grounds at Antietam. Just twenty miles south of Baltimore, picturesque Annapolis has served as Maryland’s capital since 1694 and is best known for its national naval academy. Some of the state’s most worthwhile spots are across the Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore, connected to the rest of the state by the US-50 bridge but still a world apart.
Maryland’s capital since 1694, ANNAPOLIS has changed little in size and appearance over the centuries, its charmingly narrow, time-worn streets making it among the more engaging small US cities.
At the centre of Annapolis, overlooking the town’s dense web of streets, stands the stately Georgian beauty that is the Maryland State House. The structure was completed in 1779, and for six months between 1783 and 1784 it served as the official Capitol of the USA; it remains the nation’s oldest statehouse still in use. The Old Senate Chamber, off the grand entrance hall, is where the Treaty of Paris was ratified in 1784, officially ending the Revolutionary War. A statue of George Washington stands here on the spot where, three weeks before the treaty signing, he resigned his commission as head of the Continental Army. Also on the grounds of the State House is the cottage-sized Old Treasury, built in 1735 to hold colonial Maryland’s currency reserves.