The historical heart
Wrapped in pastel shades, Willemstad
is the lively capital and heart of Curaçao
. It is known for the historic architecture of Scharloo
, the nightlife in Pietermaai
and the wooden floating bridge across St. Anna Baai that connects the colorful trading quay of Punda
with the colonial treasures in Otrabanda
. And although the neighborhoods are all open-air museums with impressive street art, it is Otranbanda where you will feast your eyes.
When Punda - the oldest part of the capital - became overcrowded long ago, dockworkers migrated across the bay. The 'Otra banda' soon grew into a chaotic working-class neighborhood where people from different backgrounds felt at home, a cultural melting pot with a colonial past. When you cross the Queen Emma Bridge
or "The Swinging Old Lady" from Punda to Otrabanda, you find yourself in a charming old neighborhood full of winding alleys, ancient monuments and hidden squares.You can wander around, from the centrally located Brión Square
where regular festivities take place to the historic Rif Fort
ress where dancing takes place every Friday night, and from the main shopping street the Breedestraat
to the to the slave trade dedicated Kura Hulanda
Museum.Plan your visit around the semi-annual Kaya Kaya
festival, the day that celebrates the beautification of Ser'i Otrobanda. In the months leading up to it, both professional artists and unskilled neighborhood residents work together to adorn a different street each time with murals and street art. The murals range from geometric shapes to realistic portraits and political commentaries. Some of the showpieces can be found on Willemstraat, such as the striking blue bird and one with the text: "Nos kaya, nan kaya, mi kaya, bo kaya. E kaya tei pa kedawat,"
which means "Our street, their street, my street, your street. The street is there to stay."