One of Jamaica’s most significant cultural sites, Seville Great House and Heritage Park, near Ocho Rios, includes ruins from the island’s first inhabitants and subsequent Spanish and British settlements. The immaculately restored Georgian-style manor and its grounds are operated by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.
Before the area was named Seville, the indigenous Taino people called it Maima, and it’s here that historians say Christopher Columbus first encountered the island’s people in 1494.
On a guided tour, visitors discover remnants of a Taino village and the 16th-century Spanish settlement of Sevilla la Nueva, including ruins of the church of Peter Martyr, a fortified castle, and the base of a sugar mill. The Great House of the 17th-century British sugar plantation still stands in its original glory. A classic wattle-and-daub construction, the house is awash in English tiling and thick mahogany arches and doors. Visitors can also explore the grounds on horseback.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Seville Great House and Heritage Park is appealing to architecture and history buffs.
- Entrance fees include a guided tour of the grounds.
- Seville Great House is wheelchair accessible.
- Remember sun protection and good shoes if you plan on taking a tour on horseback.
How to Get There
Seville Great House and Heritage Park is located near St. Ann’s Bay, about a 20-minute drive west of Ocho Rios along the coastal A-1 highway. From Montego Bay, expect an hour and a half along the same highway, but going east. Arrange a taxi from your hotel or if you are driving, there is plenty of parking at the great house.
When to Get There
The great house is open daily year-round. Come early in the morning to beat the crowds. The most popular time to visit Jamaica is from December to mid-April; after Easter and Spring Break, deals on flights and hotels are easier to find. Go in January for the Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival in Montego Bay or in November for the Anniversary of the Crowning of Haile Selassie, the former Ethiopian emperor considered by the Rastafaris to be God incarnate.
Where Columbus Met the Tainos
In 1494, Christopher Columbus shipwrecked on Jamaica. The first European to set foot on the island, he encountered the island’s original inhabitants, the Tainos, in the fishing village of Maima. Upon arrival in 1509, the Spanish divided the land among their officers and re-christened the village Sevilla la Nueva. The British took Jamaica in the 17th century, and in 1670 Captain Samuel Hemmings was awarded the land that included Sevilla la Nueva. Hemmings’ grandson built the Great House in 1745.