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Belle Isle, Richmond

4.5
#4 of 13 in Parks in Richmond
Belle Isle is a small island in the city of Richmond, Virginia. Belle Island lies within the James River, and being owned by the city it serves as a city park. It is accessible to pedestrian and bicycle traffic via a suspension footbridge that runs under the Robert E. Lee Bridge from the northern shore of the James. Except when the water level of the James is high, it is also reachable by foot from the southern shore via easy boulder-hopping. From Belle Isle, one can see Hollywood Cemetery, the old Tredegar Iron Works, and Richmond City's skyline. Belle Isle has many bike trails around the island, and has a small cliff used for rock climbing instruction.
Belle Isle was originally known as Broad Rock Island. It was first explored by Captain John Smith in 1607. In the 18th century the island was occupied by a fishery. In 1814, the Old Dominion Iron and Nail Company completed a nail factory. During the 1860s, the island was inhabited by a village complete with a school, church, and general store.
Civil WarThe island served as a prison for Union soldiers during the American Civil War. Between 1862 and 1865, the island was home to about 30,000 POWs and as many as 1,000 died, though accounts vary with the South claiming the death rate was low, while the North claimed it was very high. The Battle of Walkerton was the result of a failed Union attempt to free them.
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Belle Isle Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
144 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • We had a little time in the afternoon before meeting friends for dinner, so we walked over the pedestrian bridge to Belle Isle. What we saw was interesting — though I wish I had time to explore more. ...  more »
  • walk your dog, picknick, stick your toes in the water. this is an amazing place to spend an afternoon.  more »
Google
  • I run on this island 2-3 times a week! It’s a great hidden just 5 minutes from downtown Richmond. Highly recommend for any tourist, local, or visitor. Great way to see the beautiful James River. There are historical signs with information about historical Richmond. Almost important, absolutely beautiful. You are surrounding by running water.
  • Everything about this place is beautiful and amazing. It's so peaceful and equally fun. Pet friendly. Family fun. Even have really nice areas where you can get in the water. Perfect date spot. I enjoy every visit
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