Willemstad Walking Tour
|After the waterfront, the old area known as Scharloo contains the most interesting buildings.|
7. Fort Amsterdam : Another large yellow building and seat of government for the Netherlands Antilles . In front of the Fort is the Horn of Plenty Monument given by Holland for loyal assistance during World War II. You'll enter the fort courtyard through a covered alleyway. The bright yellow building with white columns is the Cabinet of Ministers, The lighter yellow building with the cupola is the old Fort Church , home to Curacao 's first Dutch Protestant congregation. In back of it is the Fort Church Museum . Besides congregational relics, the museum contains some of the Curacao 's oldest maps. The museum is open Monday through Friday 9-12, 2-5.
8. Wilhelminaplein ( Wilhelmina Plaza ): This pleasant plaza and adjacent park is dedicated to Queen Wilhelmina who ruled the Netherlands for half a century, from 1898 to 1948. The plaza, which is well shaded, has benches, a small bandstand and a children's playground. Cultural events are sometimes held here.
9. The Temple : Many tourists mistake this worn-looking synagogue built in the late 19th century as the oldest in the western hemisphere because it looks like it should be. It's not and there is constant talk of renovating it that never seem to go anywhere.
10. Marshe (The Old Market): It's noisy but the best place to sample local food is at these independently owned food stands. Seating is first come, first served at the long counters and small tables. Portions are generous, the prices the best in town and it's all safe to eat. But be here between 11-2 only, Monday through Friday.
11. Scharloo: Cross the Wilhelmina Bridge and begin a wonderful 1-2 hour walking tour of 19th century mansions in Scharlooweg, a once thriving Jewish community. The buildings were built with a neo-classical style, brighter colors and far more intricate detail than those of the Dutch. They set the standards that plantation houses all over the island would copy. Their intricate and elaborate details, windows, gables, various colored roofs, stairways and courtyards show more variety in these few blocks than you'll see on the rest of the ABCs combined. Amazingly, this area was almost in ruins until the late 1980s, but now that it's an important business district many buildings have been renovated.
Except for the public buildings open to everyone, you'll have to admire the rest from the outside. One of Curacao 's most famous buildings is here, the green and white National Archives. It's appropriately nicknamed the “wedding cake” because the front of the building looks like it's covered in elaborate white frosting. Although it's Scharloo's best known building, it's also one of the youngest, built in 1916. Regrettably, on some buildings still awaiting renovation you'll see what locals fittingly call “wall cancer,” the peeling away of the plaster facade by the salts in the sea stones and sand used in constructing the buildings.