Willemstad, touring "Otrobanda" and "Punda"

Willemstad Travel Blog

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Punda, seen from the Rif Fortress, Otrobanda

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".

Otrobanda
Punda was established in 1634 after the Dutch captured Curaçao from the Spanish who had discovered Curaçao and its valuable natural harbor on Saint Anna Day. This may explain the name of the small natural canal, the Saint Anna Bay, that accesses the huge natural harbor, the Schottegat Bay.

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.

Uncle's Barber Shop, Otrobanda
In 1974 another record bridge was added, the Queen Juliana Bridge. After a tragic failure, in 1968 when the whole bridge collapsed in the final phase of its construction, the second bridge was a huge success and is currently with 56.4 meters (185 feet) one of the highest bridges in the world. Although the bridge relieved the pressure of traffic on the historic center and the Emma Bridge, it, unfortunately, also destroyed two very characteristic district of the city.

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.

Pietermaai
Thank God! But there is still a lot of work to be done. Walking through the narrow, winding alleys we saw the most beautifully restored monuments next to complete ruins. For me, as a ghost town-o-holic it was beautiful in either case.

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.

 

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Punda, seen from the Rif Fortress,…
Punda, seen from the Rif Fortress…
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Uncles Barber Shop, Otrobanda
Uncle's Barber Shop, Otrobanda
Pietermaai
Pietermaai
The Queen Emma Bridge seen from Ot…
The Queen Emma Bridge seen from O…
The Rif Fortress, Otrobanda
The Rif Fortress, Otrobanda
Fortress, Punda
Fortress, Punda
The storage buildings in Punda
The storage buildings in Punda
Americanization of Otrobanda
Americanization of Otrobanda
The Police Station, Otrobanda
The Police Station, Otrobanda
Police car
Police car
Police Station, Otrobanda
Police Station, Otrobanda
Ministry of Economic Affairs, Otro…
Ministry of Economic Affairs, Otr…
Ministry of Economic Affairs, Otro…
Ministry of Economic Affairs, Otr…
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Fria, the local soft drink. Dushii…
Fria, the local soft drink. Dushi…
Do not piss! Otrobanda
Do not piss! Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda, mind the Dutch Kliko
Otrobanda, mind the Dutch "Kliko"
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
The Queen Juliana Bridge
The Queen Juliana Bridge
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Scharloo, the Waaigat Bay, and t…
Scharloo, the "Waaigat" Bay, and …
The ferries which take care of ped…
The ferries which take care of pe…
Otrobanda
Otrobanda
Kura Hulanda Hotel, Otrobanda
Kura Hulanda Hotel, Otrobanda
Kura Hulanda Hotel, Otrobanda
Kura Hulanda Hotel, Otrobanda
The Emma Bridge, almost completely…
The Emma Bridge, almost completel…
The Queen Juliana Bridge, seen fro…
The Queen Juliana Bridge, seen fr…
The St. Anna Bay Ferry seen from t…
The St. Anna Bay Ferry seen from …
St. Anna Bay Ferry
St. Anna Bay Ferry
The Emma Bridge, Punda
The Emma Bridge, Punda
Fortress Amsterdam, still with all…
Fortress Amsterdam, still with al…
Fortress Amsterdam, Punda
Fortress Amsterdam, Punda
Punda
Punda
Avila Beach Hotel, Pietermaai
Avila Beach Hotel, Pietermaai
Pietermaai
Pietermaai
Pietermaai
Pietermaai
Willemstad
photo by: paodelatorre