Alongside the English, Spanish, and French, the Dutch have a history of colonization in the Americas and the Caribbean - after all, New York was originally the Dutch colony called New Amsterdam. Today the stunning Caribbean island of Curaçao is a constituent country that remains in a union with the Netherlands. Its capital, Willemstad, is UNESCO listed for its stunning Dutch colonial architecture.
Curacao is one of the great attractions in the Caribbean and is full of things to see and do. Besides its colonial city of Willemstad, Curacao is famous for its stunning flamingos and its salt flats - one will need a few days to really explore this stunning Caribbean island.
A Piece Of The Netherlands In The Caribbean
Willemstad is home to some of the oldest colonial architecture in the Americas - including the Curaçao synagogue (the oldest surviving synagogue in the Western Hemisphere).
Willemstad is made up of four quarters the Punda, Otrobanda, Scharloo, and Sint Anna Bay quarters.
- Curaçao Synagogue: Oldest Surviving Synagogue In The Americas
- UNESCO Listed: The Old Dutch Town Of Willemstad Is World Heritage Listed
- Population: 136,000
As one comes into Willemstad by boat, one would be forgiven for thinking one had been transported back to Europe (that is, until one considers the warm tropical weather and beaches of the Caribbean). Willemstad is a town in the Caribbean with the feel of a Dutch city.
As one explores the old town, one will find waterways and street cafés reminiscent of the Netherlands. The town has old 17th and 18th-century examples of Dutch fortifications to discover and restaurants, bars, and clubs in the Pietermaai quarter.
The best way to explore Willemstad is with a guided tour, and there are a number of guided historical walking tours offered.
2-Hour Willemstad Historical Walking Tour
One example of a historical walking tour of Willemstad is listed on Tours by Locals. This two-hour guided walk through the colorful streets of Willemstad opens up the history and architecture of the stunning town and is led by a local who was born and raised there.
Guests are guided through the historic streets, the narrow alleys, and the squares of the Otrobanda and Punda quarters of Willemstad. The tour is a trip back in time to the colonial days long ago, and the tour is particularly tailored for those interested in the history of the unique city.
The tour starts at the Riffort and includes many of the top sights in the city, like the harbor, residential areas of Otrobanda, the basilica, Fort Amsterdam, and the synagogue.
- Duration: 2 Hours
- Quarters: Otrobanda and Punda
- Cost: $97 Per Tour
- Participants: Up to 10
The tour is also customizable - just contact the tour guide. The tour includes an expert local guide and bottled water. It is recommended to bring a little extra cash along for any beer, coffee, or snacks one may like to buy along the way.
Pick up and drop off can be arranged if required for an extra fee.
Curaçao Jewish Heritage Half Day Tour
Curaçao has a rich Jewish heritage, and there are dedicated tours to discovering the island's Jewish history. The Curaçao Jewish Heritage Half Day Tour offers an insight into the Jewish community's contribution to the island and how there has been a Jewish population on the island since the 1650s.
- Jewish Settlement In Curaçao: Since The 1650s
On this tour, visitors will see the oldest synagogue still active in the Western Hemisphere, as well as the Jewish neighborhood, the old Jewish cemetery, and more. The itinerary of the tour includes:
- Beth Haim Jewish Cemetery: Dates From The 17th Century
- Shaarei Tsedek Synagogue: Only If It Is Possible To Pre-Arrange Entry
- Chobolobo: A Jewish Owned Curaçao Liqueur Distillery
- Beit Haim Jewish Cemetery: Dates From The 19th Century
- Scharloo: The Jewish Neighborhood
- Mikve Israel Emmanuel Synagogue: Built 1732 - Only Opened Certain Dates and Times
The tour starts at the Cruise Ship Port or another pre-arranged meeting point and lasts for 4 hours. The tour includes transportation in an air-conditioned vehicle. The entrance fee to the Mikve Israel Emmanuel Museum is not included (an extra $10 per person).
- Duration: 4 Hours
- Cost: $270 Per Tour
- Participants: Up To 4
These are just a couple of the tours that delve into the unique architecture of Willemstad and its rich heritage.