Willemstad: Truly A World Heritage
Picture this, you are walking on the street of Amsterdam yet the weather is as tropical as you can get. Paradise? Nope. Willemstad? Yes. Like Amsterdam, Willemstad has lots of narrow buildings along the canal. Walking on the streets of Willemstad is like walking the streets of Amsterdam, the only difference is the climate and the buildings are more colorful.
Willemstad is the capital of Curacao. Listed as one of the World Heritage Sites, it is the only one in the Caribbean. With a total land mass of 450 square meters and a population of 125,000 inhabitants; Willemstad is the seat of the Netherlands Antilles Government. Willemstad has two sectors, Otrobanda and Punda which is divided by the St. Anna bay, an inlet that flows directly into Schottegat (Curacao’s large natural harbor) with only a long pontoon bridge connecting the two. Punda was founded by the Dutch when it was captured from the Spaniards in 1634 while Otrobanda was established in 1707. Otrobanda is also regarded as the cultural center of Willemstad.
Willemstad offers an array of colonial design. Rich in history and culture, Many of Willemstad’s architectural designs are influenced by the Dutch. Its buildings are tall and vibrant in color which brings an air of Amsterdam to the tropics.
Willemstad has many interesting place. On the Punda district, there are lots of duty free shops that attract the visitors of Willemstad. There’s the Floating Market, where traders from nearby Venezuela, Colombia as well as the West Indian Islands gather together to vend their wares such as fruits, vegetables spices and crafts. There is also an 18th century stronghold that was once occupied by the Dutch West India Company.
On the Otrobanda side of Willemstad (accessible by the Koningin Emmabrug Bridge), there are also lots of 18th and 19th century structures. There is a liqueur factory called “Senior Curacao Liqueur”; where visitors get the chance to sample the local brews (which produces beer from seawater, quite interesting isn’t it?). There is also the Kura Hulanda Museum, a museum that showcases a lot of ancient civilizations of West Africa and has documents of the history of Curacao and the Caribbean slave trade.
If you are walking down the streets of Willemstad you’ll find out how comfortable and fascinating it would be. Even if you’ll go shopping on the busy Floating Market, you will find it rather enjoying. Willemstad is truly a world heritage.
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