Audio Podcast: A Walking Tour of Roseau, Dominica (Copyright ©2008)

Society for Heritage Architecture Preservation and Enhancement (SHAPE), November 2008

Visit the original article online

View of roseau


Welcome to Roseau. During the day, you will find this small town jam-packed with pedestrians and traffic travelling in all directions, vendors bordering the sidewalks with local crafts, and a snackette at every corner, offering mouth-watering Caribbean-Creole delights. At sunset, this vibrant town mellows down, so much so that it almost resembles its days at the turn of the century.

Hi I’m Mara Etienne-Manley. Today we’re going to weave our way through this compact and walkable town of Roseau. In less than two miles, we’ll tour the beating heart and soul of this remarkable town, discovering historic architectural gems, where the elements of three continents, Europe, Africa and Pre-Columbian America combine to create a truly Caribbean Creole style.

Often referred to as ‘an island within an island’, Roseau boasts being the only Caribbean town framed by the Caribbean Sea and a meandering river flowing through the capital.

The oldest urban settlement in Dominica, Roseau was once a village populated by Kalinago Indians who initially named the community Sairi. Following the island’s acquisition by the French in the early seventeen hundreds, the town was renamed Roseau after the roseaux reed which grew along the river banks and at that time used by the Amerindians for thatching huts, basket and hat making, as well as arrow shafts for hunting. The French settlers predominantly woodcutters, established themselves in the area, building huts from timber, and developing a small village.

Today, a new energy rocks the streets. During this walking tour of historic Roseau, you’ll notice it’s a Creole belle of a city- a real charmer, as lovers of historic architecture, attractive boutiques, and small bars and cafés soon discover. Here, we have some of the best-preserved collection of urban vernacular in the Caribbean, despite fires and several hurricanes, most notably, Hurricane David in 1979.

At the end of your walk, you’ll agree that Roseau is teeming with history, rich culture, fascinating locals and character.

Click on the link above to listen to the SHAPE podcast.

Roseau map14 roseau_map14.pdf