It held the status of capital city from the 16th to the 19th century. The city is home to certain memorials, the national archives, a small population, and one of the oldest Anglican churches outside of England (the others are in Virginia and Maryland).
The Spanish settlement of Villa de la Vega was founded by governor Francisco de Garay in 1534 as the capital of the colony. Later, it was also called Santiago de la Vega or St. Jago de la Vega. Indigenous Taino had been living in the area for approximately a millennium before this, but this was the first European habitation on the south of the island. When the English conquered Jamaica in 1655, they renamed the capital Spanish Town. Since the town was badly damaged during the conquest, Port Royal took on many administrative roles and functioned as an unofficial capital during the beginning of the English reign. By the time Port Royal was decimated by an earthquake in 1692, Spanish Town had been rebuilt and was again functioning as the capital.
By 1755, serious rivalry from lobbyists caused increasing speculation about the continued suitability of Spanish Town as the capital. By 1836, Governor Lionel Smith observed that "the capital was in ruins, with no commercial, manufacturing and agricultural concern in operation". To worsen the situation on the heels of The Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865, Sir John Peter Grant ordered the removal of the capital to Kingston (1872) which, with its spectacular harbors and major trade links had come to be considered the natural capital of the island. After the capital was removed Spanish Town lost much of its life and grandeur.
 Points of interest
The centre of the town boasts a few Regency buildings, including the Rodney Memorial and the façade of Old King's House, the residence of the governors until 1872.
The history of Spanish Town lives on in the remains of the old buildings in its street names that mark it as the start of Jamaica's overall history. Reminders of Spanish Jamaica include Red Church and White Church Streets, symbolic of the Spanish chapels of the red and white cross, as well as Monk Street, in reference to the monastery that once stood nearby. Nugent Street and Manchester Street were named for British Colonial Governors, George Nugent and William Montagu, 5th Duke of Manchester. King Street received its name because it runs past King's House and Constitution Street, near to the Square, it also refers to the fact that the island's administrative centre used to be located there.
Built on the West Bank of the Rio Cobre the town lies thirteen miles from Kingston on the main road. As a site of historical importance, its history was shaped by its experiences within two significant colonial periods. These periods are the Spanish from 1534 -1655 and the English from 1655 -1782.
 Present Day
The population of Spanish Town nowadays is 148,845 (2006 population estimate). The population of Spanish Town, like the rest of the St. Catherine has been growing rapidly, causing a drastic increase of crime and violence in the city. The city has been in turmoil for the past 4 years as a result of the increase of violent murders. Steps have been taken by the government recently to stop the violence, but none of them have been successful. Mayor Raymoth Notice said the problem with Spanish Town is that there are too many guns and not enough jobs and educational opportunities.
It was for this reason that last year he launched a gun initiative, proposing to swap guns for education. Under this initiative, the mayor urged those in possession of illegal guns to turn them over, in exchange for a chance to learn new skills and further their education. Notice's initiative did not get far as he failed to pull in the required support from the national security ministry and the police.
Today, Spanish Town is sometimes referred to colloquially as "Spain Town" or "Prison Oval" within the confines of Jamaica. The latter nickname is a reference to the Cricket pitch or oval located just outside the St. Catherine District Prison where some inmates can get a limited view of the sport through their cell windows. Association football is also played at the Prison Oval; Rivoli United F.C. is the major team.
To date Spanish Town is considered as a town of significant historical value in this hemisphere. It boasts the oldest iron bridge of its kind in the Western Hemisphere , which was erected in 1801 at a cost of four thousand pounds. It also had one of the first Spanish Cathedrals to be established in the new world. This was built around 1525. Most religious denominations have churches or meeting halls in the town. Besides the Anglican Cathedral, there is a Roman Catholic Church; there are Wesleyan, Baptists and Seventh-Day Adventist chapels, as well as a Moslem Mosque, the only one of its kind in the island.
In the town standing untouched in character is an historic alms-house and a public hospital and a maximum penal institution built in the eighteenth century. There is in the town itself a factory where dyes are made from logwood, (the grandfather of the author of this webpage, Rosemarie Greene, worked as the factory’s timekeeper all his life, and was the minister of the “Life Line Mission” in Spanish Town on French Street, where the store “Anderson’s Store now stands), and a rice processing plant. In the neighborhood are five large sugar estates, a milk condensary and a large textile mill -- significant contributors to the changing social and economic patterns of the Old Capital.
- Parish Information
- Robertson, James, 2005, Gone is the Ancient Glory, Spanish Town Jamaica 1534-2000, Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers, ISBN 976-637-197-0 then spanih town was blown up then rebuilt to make it look better(they used bombs to blow up spanish town).
- The famous pirate Calico Jack and his crew were hanged in Santiago de la Vega in 1720 following a trial conducted by the governor, Sir Nicholas Lawes.
- In Charlotte Bronte's famous novel Jane Eyre, Bertha Rochester, the insane wife of Edward Rochester, came from Spanish Town.
- The oldest man-made bridge in the western hemisphere is in Spanish Town.
- On June 24, 2007, Danish singer Natasja Saad died in Spanish Town Hospital after a car crash near the city.
- The Beautiful Girls song "Spanish Town", featuring on the album Ziggurats took its name from this city.