In 1676, after the burning of the fort at Jamestown, the small inland village of Middle Plantation became the new colonial capital and was soon renamed Williamsburg in honour of King William III.
Virginia was the wealthiest of the American colonies and in a display of means and stature, Williamstown developed into a grand city that soon became the colonies' largest.
The city is centred on a wide, mile long avenue which is peppered with fine 18th-century buildings. The first and finest of these was the Capitol, constructed in 1704. It was soon followed by the 1716 Wren Building on the William and Mary College campus, and the 1720 Governor's Palace with adjoining Palace Green. Other notable buildings include the Bruton Parish Church, Courthouse, the octagonal Powder Magazine and Market Square Tavern.
A highlight of a visit is the magnificent Capitol lying at the end of Duke of Gloucester Street. As with many of Williamsburg's finest structures, the current building is a reconstruction of the original. When the American Revolution broke out the capital was moved to the more secure city of Richmond. Many of the original structures were intact but in poor condition when, in the 1920s, John D. Rockefeller offered to support the city's restoration. In total 88 of the 500 buildings are original while hundreds of other houses, shops and public buildings have been painstakingly researched, rebuilt and refitted with the authentic accoutrements of the day.
Today a one day pass allows you to wander along the cobbled streets and the lush, green commons, listening to re-enactments of historic political events and exploring this car-free city at your own pace.
Suggested itineraries featuring Williamsburg
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Williamsburg, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Williamsburg
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Places near Williamsburg
- Richmond 44 miles away
- Virginia Beach 50 miles away
- Virginia 99 miles away
- St. Michaels 109 miles away
- Charlottesville 111 miles away
- Washington D.C. 114 miles away
- Annapolis 119 miles away
- Baltimore 140 miles away
- Front Royal 140 miles away
- Raleigh 150 miles away
- Roanoke 178 miles away
- Gettysburg 180 miles away
- Lancaster 193 miles away
- Philadelphia 204 miles away
- Winston-Salem 213 miles away
- Wilmington 222 miles away
- Charlotte 271 miles away
- New York 281 miles away
Photos of Williamsburg
Accommodation choices for Williamsburg
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Williamsburg. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.