Phillipsburg, the classy capital of Dutch Sint Maarten, belongs clearly to the last segment. Phillipsburg isn’t the type of place you get lost in, though you’ll probably let yourself get lost in the deals. With a bustling economy filled with high-end shopping streets, hotels, and cafés, Phillipsburg is a town of trade, good food, and awesome international shopping experiences.
There are two main roads that bisect Phillipsburg along its length: Front Street and Back Street. Front Street is considered the main artery, with a collection of duty-free shops. Everything — from native crafts, to Italian leather, to Japanese products — can be found here. From Front Street, there are several narrow alleys that lead to different arcades and flower-filled courtyards. For those looking for beautiful architecture, there are great examples of West Indian styles executed in the trademark pastel colors.
A Rich History
One of the most prominent landmarks in Front Street is the 1793 structure simply named “The Courthouse”. This is a wooden building, washed white and built with architectural flair. Another good place to visit is the Simartin Museum, which tours you through the local history. Among the items displayed are real examples of Arawak pottery. The Arawaks are the original inhabitants of the island.
Phillipsburg is also an important strategic point in the whole of Sint Maarten, and this is marked by the two historic forts found within its boundaries. Fort Amsterdam, the older one, was built in 1631. This was the first such outpost built by the Dutch in the Caribbean. It was soon captured by the Spanish, until it went back to Dutch control in 1648. Today, the site provides a spectacular view of the whole capital.
Fort Willem, currently housing a television transmission tower, was built in 1801. It was a British structure, until the Dutch took over it in 1816. Likewise, it has a great view of the whole city of Phillipsburg and even neighboring islands.
Past Meets Present
Today, Phillipsburg continues to be an important part of Dutch Sint Maarten, with its focus on trade. The past mingles with the present in good spirits, as the capital has turned into an exciting tourist destination. Its scenic waterfront offers a stopover for cruise ships, and its many night clubs, cafés, and restaurants offer a whole night’s worth of entertainment.
Photo of KLM at Maho beach by Ben Senior on Flickr