Port Royal is a village located at the end of the Palisadoes at the mouth of the Kingston Harbour, in southeastern Jamaica. Founded in 1518 by the Spanish, it was once the largest city in the Caribbean, functioning as the centre of shipping and it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1692, which had an accompanying tsunami. Severe hurricanes have regularly damaged it, another severe earthquake occurred in 1907. Port Royal was once home to privateers encouraged to attack Habsburg Spains vessels when smaller European powers dared not directly make war on Spain, as a port city, it was notorious for its gaudy displays of wealth and loose morals. It was a popular homeport for the English and Dutch-sponsored privateers to spend their treasure during the 17th century and they continued to use the city as their main base during the 17th century. Pirates from around the world congregated at Port Royal, coming from waters as far away as Madagascar, after the 1692 disaster, Port Royals commercial role was steadily taken over by the town of nearby Kingston. Plans were developed in 1999 to redevelop the small fishing town as a tourism destination to serve cruise ships. It could capitalize on its heritage, with archaeological findings from pre-colonial. The Taino Indians occupied this area for centuries before European encounter and they used the area, which they called Caguay or Caguaya, during their fishing expeditions. Although it is not known whether they settled at the spit. The Spanish first landed in Jamaica in 1494 under the leadership of Christopher Columbus, permanent settlement occurred when Juan de Esquivel brought a group of settlers in 1509. They came in search of new lands and valuable resources, like gold, instead they began to cultivate and process the sugar cane. Much like the Taino before them, the Spanish did not appear to have use for the Port Royal area. They did, however, retain its Taino name, Spain kept control of Jamaica mostly so that it could prevent other countries from gaining access to the island, which was strategically sited within the trade routes of the Caribbean. Spain maintained control over the island for 146 years, until the English took control following their invasion of 1655, the town was captured by England in 1655 during the invasion of Jamaica. By 1659 two hundred houses, shops and warehouses had been built around the fort, by 1692 five forts defended the port, the English initially called the place Cagway but soon renamed it as Port Royal. For much of the period between the English conquest and the 1692 earthquake, Port Royal served as the capital of Jamaica, after the earthquake, Spanish Town was designated as the capital. In 1872 the government designated Kingston, the largest city, as the capital, in 1657, as a solution to his defence concerns, Governor Edward DOley invited the Brethren of the Coast to come to Port Royal and make it their home port
An illustration of pre-1692 Port Royal
Port Royal Fort defences
Remains of the Naval Hospital, rebuilt 1818 by Edward Holl.
Old map of Port Royal. Light section at top and going down toward the right is the part of the city lost in 1692 earthquake; slightly shaded middle section part of city that was flooded; darkly shaded bottom section is part of city that survived