Cyprus Mail

Willemstad: Curaçao’s lively capital of many colours

In this video, we travel to Willemstad, the lively capital of Curaçao, the ‘C’ in the ABC Dutch Caribbean islands, which also include Aruba and Bonaire.

The Santa Ana Bay splits Willemstad into two main districts (there are four in total): Punda to the east and Otrobanda (“other side”) to the west. The Queen Wilhelmina Bridge, the Queen Juliana Bridge and the pedestrian-only Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge connect the two sides. When the bridge is open, visitors can hop on a ferry and cross the bay to get a view of the city from the water.

While it may offer modern shops, Punda is actually the oldest part of the city, and where visitors will find the colourful buildings of the Handelskade. This historic waterfront strip is a vibrant reminder of Curaçao’s Dutch heritage, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage designated area.

Punda is also home to Fort Amsterdam, one of eight surviving forts in Curaçao. Opposite the fort is the Dutch-styled Penha House, built in the 1700s, after which, continuing along Columbusstraat, there is the western hemisphere’s oldest synagogue, Mikve-Israel Emanuel.

In Otrobanda, meanwhile, travellers can wander narrow, twisting lanes, including the main commercial street, Breedestraat, and learn about the island’s African and slave trade history at Kura Hulanda Museum. They can also spend time at Riffort Village, a former fort, offering outdoor cafés, boutique shops and galleries.

Beyond Willemstad’s historical centre, there is a natural park and beaches to enjoy. Blue Bay Beach in particular offers a playground, a restaurant and bar, umbrellas and loungers. A close-up view of the area’s marine life is also possible, thanks to the Curacao Sea Aquarium on the oceanfront.

As for Willemstad’s cuisine, it draws its flavours from over 50 cultures. A good place for a bite is Marsche Bieuw (Old Market), where local dishes include yuana, or stewed iguana. At the Floating Market, meanwhile, Venezuelan vendors sell fresh fish and spices, fruits and vegetables.

View the original video here.

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