Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the island of St. Kitts in the Federation of St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis in the Eastern Caribbean. It was designed by British military engineers and built and maintained by African slaves. It is one of the best preserved historical fortifications in the Americas.
Cannon were first mounted on Brimstone Hill in 1690, when the British used them to recapture Fort Charles from the French. The French had not considered it possible to transport cannon up the steep and thickly wooded sides of Brimstone Hill. The construction of the fort then carried on intermittently for just over 100 years. In its heyday, the fort was known as 'The Gibraltar of the West Indies', in reference to its imposing height and seeming invulnerability. In 1782, the French, under Admiral Comte François Joseph Paul de Grasse laid siege to the fort. During the siege, the adjacent island of Nevis surrendered, and guns from Fort Charles and other small forts there were brought to St. Kitts for use against Brimstone Hill. British Admiral Hood could not dislodge de Grasse, and after a month of siege, the heavily outnumbered and cut-off British garrison surrendered. However, a year later, the Treaty of Paris (1783) restored St. Kitts and Brimstone Hill to British rule, along with the adjacent island of Nevis. Following these events, the British carried out a program to augment and strengthen the fortifications, and Brimstone Hill never again fell to an enemy force.
The fort was abandoned by the British in the mid 19th century, and the structures gradually decayed through vandalism and natural processes. Stabilization and restoration of the remaining structures started in the early 1900s. In 1973 HRH Prince Charles reopened the first area to be completely restored, the Prince of Wales Bastion. In 1985 Britain's Queen Elizabeth II unveiled a plaque naming Brimstone Hill as a National Park. Legislation in 1987 officially declared Brimstone Hill to be a National Park. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999.
Areas that can be toured include the imposing Citadel, Western Place of Arms, Eastern Place of Arms, and Fort George Museum, all a steep walk up from the main parking area via a set of ramps and steps. Other areas include the Magazine Bastion, whose walls were breached by the French in 1782, ruins of the Royal Engineers' Quarters, ruins of the Artillery Officers' Quarters, Infantry Officers' Quarters, and the Orillon Bastion. The ruins of the barracks are a short walk from the car parking area.