Seville Great House

Top choice historic site in St Ann’s Bay

This historical park overlooking the sea, less than 1km west of present-day St Ann’s, marks the site of the first Spanish capital on the island – Sevilla la Nueva – and one of the first Spanish settlements in the Americas. It houses a fascinating great house, plantation remains and reconstructions of Taíno houses and African houses for the enslaved, along with their kitchen gardens.

When the English captured Jamaica from the Spanish, the land on which Sevilla la Nueva had been built was granted to an army officer, who developed a sugar estate here. The great house was originally built in 1745; on the lawn in front of the house there is a touching memorial to the enslaved Africans whose remains were discovered on the site and reburied here in 1997.

The restored house contains a truly excellent museum depicting the history of the site from Taíno times through the era of slavery and the colonial period. The everyday lives of the Jamaican Africans forced to work here are reconstructed with particular sensitivity; their experiences stand in stark contrast to the grandeur of the intricate stone architectural carvings from the Spanish period and the dainty bone china teacups of the British.

Traces of the original Spanish buildings, including a church and the castle-house of the first Spanish governor, are visible, along with the ruins of the English sugar mills and the overseer's house. This was also the site of the Taíno village of Maima; the inhabitants were forced to work as serfs under the Spanish encomienda (forced labor) system, and quickly died from a combination of disease, overwork and suicide.