St John Cathedral

Though few head to Antigua to seek out historical sights, the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Divine is one of the lasting tributes to Europe's early exploration of the Caribbean islands. Located in the capital city of the same name, the St. John the Divine Cathedral (or St. John"s Cathedral) was built in 1681. It has seen hard times, however – this is actually the third incarnation of the church. It just can't seem to survive the region's destructive earthquakes – one in 1745 brought whole structure toppling to the ground, while another in 1843 left the Cathedral of St. John the Divine reeling yet again.

The current church – reconfigured in a neo-Baroque style has stood since 1845 however, and shows no sign of giving into nature a third time. The interior of St John's Cathedral has completely encased in a variety of substances (most prevalently pitch pine) to ensure that the cathedral remains upright. The imposing white towers overlook the country's turquoise waters, a stark contrast between the nation's colonial history and its current fame as one of the party capitals of the world.

The sight of the towers of the St. John the Divine Cathedral is more meaningful for those approaching on boat – it is often the first structure your eye can make out as your ships pull into the harbor. But for years St. John"s cathedral was seen by the slaves as a imposing symbol of fear – the giant white strength of the English who called the island home.

The church is famous for the bronze statues that mark the exterior of the cathedral. These figures are of a pair of St. Johns – St. John the Baptist, and the St. John that lends his name to the cathedral. Supposedly taken from French warships in the mid 18th century, the spoils of battle were placed where everyone could see – the bronze figures still adorn the tops of the church's southern pillars, which at one time were its only entrance. The cupolas rise seventy feet into the air and actually has many architectural similarities to ancient pagan temples. For this reason alone, many ecclesiastical architects were critical upon completion of the third rendition of St. John's cathedral. But those complaints have been buried in history books and you will be hard pressed to find someone on Antigua to critique their church.

The interior of the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Divine looks like something you would find in Europe, adding to the stark contrast with its oceanside location. The usual crosses, tombs and stained glass can be found in the church – it is simply its context which imbues it with a sense of supreme holiness.

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