Willemstad, touring "Otrobanda" and "Punda"
Willemstad Travel Blog› entry 594 of 1090 › view all entries
My first day in Curaçao had to be a day in Willemstad, the capital of the island, and former Capital of the recently dissolved Dutch Antilles. We had arranged for a rental car, but, the contract would only start tomorrow, so, today would be a day of self transportation.....
Our hotel, Hotel Scharloo, is located in the beautiful old neighborhood of Scharloo. More about Scharloo in a next weblog. The hotel is only a 5-minute walk to the beautiful historic center of the city. So, we had no transport issues at all, nor did we have any parking issues.
Willemstad consists of many boroughs. Punda is the oldest one, and has evolved form the Dutch name "De Punt".
Willemstad was extended on the other side of the St. Anna Bay in 1707. The borough of "Otrobanda" (the other side in the local language). Punda grew to be the trade district with Amsterdam like store houses, markets and the government. The people lived in Otrobanda. Commuting between the two boroughs became easier in 1888 when the iconic pontoon bridge, Queen Emma Bridge, was opened. The 168-meter long bridge is, although renovated several times, still in service and is currently the only wooden pontoon bridge in the world.
We started our tour in Otrobanda. The part of the city that, until recently, was subject to decline and decay. Many monumental houses and buildings were deteriorating and got abandoned. As per 1997 the historic sites of Willemstad were placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and since that time restoration is performed.
Shocking to me was the whole new and ugly cruise terminal with horrible shopping mall and the disgusting Renaissance Hotel built in the beautiful old Rif Fortress. This beautiful part has lost is charm forever.....
After a lunch we focused on Punda, with its impressive old Fortress Amsterdam, and the majestic and colorful store houses, which were painted in all kind of happy colors at the order of one of the Dutch governors who could not stand the bright light reflected by the white walls. Speaking of governors, did you know that the famous New York (New Amsterdam) Governor, Peter Stuyvesant, served on Curaçao prior to coming to the Big Apple?
Many more pictures below this text.