Statio Haud Malefida Carinis("A Safe Harbour for Ships")
|Founded||1650 as "Carenage"|
|Renamed||1756 as "Castries"|
|Founded by||the French|
|Named for||Charles Eugène Gabriel de La Croix, marquis de Castries|
|o Governing body||Castries City Council|
|o Mayor||Geraldine Lendor-Gabriel|
|o Total||79 km2 (30.5 sq mi)|
|Elevation||2 m (6.56 ft)|
|o Density||250/km2 (660/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC-4 (Eastern Caribbean Time Zone (ECT))|
|HDI (2006)||0.814 - high|
Castries , population 20,000, aggl. 53,639, is the capital and largest city of Saint Lucia, an island country in the Caribbean. The district with the same name had a population of 70,000 on 22 May 2013 and stretches over an area of 80 km2 (31 sq mi).
Castries is in a flood plain and is built on reclaimed land. It houses the seat of government and the head offices of many foreign and local businesses. The city is laid out in a grid pattern. Its sheltered harbour receives cargo vessels, ferry boats, and cruise ships. It houses duty-free shopping facilities such as Point Seraphine and La Place Carenage. The city is well served by a bus system and taxi service. St Lucia's main post office is in Castries.
In 1650, the fort aupres du Petit Cul-de-Sac et de la riviere du Carénage was founded by a group of 40 Frenchmen led by de Rousselan, when St. Lucia was purchased by Capt. du Parquet and Monsieur Houel from the French West India Company. The capital was moved to the south side of the harbor in 1769 by Gov. Baron de Micoud. In 1785, the village of Carénage was renamed Castries, after Charles Eugène Gabriel de La Croix, marquis de Castries, the French Minister of the Navy and Colonies.
During World War II on 9 March 1942, the German U-161 sailed into Castries harbor at night and sank two allied ships, including the Canadian ocean liner RMS Lady Nelson, which was subsequently refloated in the harbour and taken to Canada to be converted to a hospital ship.
Castries has been rebuilt many times, following major fires on 15 October 1805, 6 April 1813, and most notably on 19 June 1948.
One of the major tourist areas in St. Lucia, Castries is a port of call for cruise ships. They dock at Pointe Seraphine, to the north of the harbour.
Landmarks include the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Derek Walcott Square (renamed from Columbus Square to honor the island's Nobel Prize-winning poet, Derek Walcott), the City Library, the Government House, and Fort Charlotte, at the top of Morne Fortune (an 845-foot or 258 m hill). Beaches include Vigie Beach, Malabar Beach, Choc Beach, and La Toc Beach.
Castries is served by George F. L. Charles Airport, also known as Vigie Airport. Passengers on longer flights arrive at Hewanorra International Airport, near Vieux-Fort. The drive between Hewanorra and Castries can take an hour and a half. Helicopter service between the airports shortens travel time.
Ferries run between Castries and Fort-de-France, Martinique. Yachts may dock in Castries, though they must clear customs first. When the customs area is full, yachts must anchor at the quarantine dock to wait; those that do not are fined. Afterward, yachts may anchor in front of Castries Town or Vigie Creek.
Standard bus routes run from Castries to all outlying districts on the island. The buses are private (not subsidized by government) bearing green license plates with numbers that start with an M—for example, M456. The buses line up in designated areas to pick up passengers. The bus fronts displays a route band, a luminescent sign that indicates which part of the island the bus is traveling to.
As well as being the capital city of Saint Lucia, Castries hosts the secretariat of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. Castries also hosts the headquarters of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
In October 2008, the American Chamber of Commerce, Saint Lucia, was established. The establishment of a chamber was encouraged by the U.S. Embassy, Barbados. Hugh W. Jones was elected and installed as its first president.
The mayor of Castries is Geraldine Lendor-Gabriel, who took office in September 2021.
A number of international embassies and consulates keep their headquarters in Castries. They include the Organization of American States, British High Commission, Mexican Embassy, embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) (in Rodney Bay), Dominican Republic Consulate, French Embassy, Italian Vice Consulate, Jamaican Consulate, Netherlands Consulate, Norwegian Consulate, Brazilian Embassy and Venezuelan Embassy.