Trail Harbor

Otrobanda Curacao

Traditionally, Otrobanda has been more of a residential neighborhood than Punda. The most impressive Dutch colonial buildings in Otrobanda date from the 18th and 19th centuries. Both the stately mansions and the modest houses have been home to important people and politicians. In its heyday - the early 1900s - about 10,000 people lived in Otrobanda. Around the 1950s, however, many prominent families left the city and moved to the suburbs, eventually causing this neighborhood to fall into disrepair. In the early 1980s, major renovations were carried out, revitalizing entire sections of Otrobanda.

A pleasant breeze blows in most alleys and there is always shade, unless you are out and about in the middle of the day. You can get something to eat or drink at several places along the way, especially on Breedestraat and De Rouvilleweg. During the day the route is absolutely safe, even for a woman alone. However, it is recommended not to deviate from the prescribed route, especially during dusk, as some parts of Otrobanda are quite neglected.

Trail Harbor

- The route starts at the foot of the Emma Bridge in Otrobanda. From the bridge you have a beautiful view of the waterfront and the row of old merchant houses along the Handelskade in Punda - one of the most photographed subjects of the island . The large yellow building is Fort Amsterdam, the seat of the government of the Netherlands Antilles. Slightly to the right are the old walls of the original Waterfort - the oldest building on the island that is now part of a hotel complex.

- Now turn around and look at Otrobanda. Brion Square dominates the waterfront of Otrobanda. The square takes its name from Pedro Luís Brión, a Curaçaoan who fought alongside General Simón Bolivar in the South American wars of independence. There is a small statue of Brión on the square. Brionplein - better known to Curaçaoans as Awasa ("salt water") - has long been the cultural center of the city. Many old buildings on the square were burned down during the riots in 1969. Today it is a pleasant square with some snack bars, benches and shady trees, where groups of Curaçaoans often sit and enjoy the invigorating sea breeze.

- The large blue building on your right is Hotel Otrobanda, which was built in the 1980s in a style that suits the surrounding area. Opposite the hotel is the ferry terminal. This is where your walking tour ends. Between the hotel and Brionplein begins Breedestraat, the largest shopping street in Otrobanda, which is particularly busy on Saturday mornings.

- On your left you will see the Rif Fortress, built in 1828, which guards the entrance to the harbor. For a stunning view of Punda, take a walk along the shore . Just in front of the Riffort is the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel, which is under construction. Now walk past the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel building to the restored police building - originally built in 1750 and thus one of the oldest buildings in Otrobanda. Note the interesting details, especially the ornately curled white decorations around the windows and gables. These are the typical features of the building style of that period. Next, you will arrive at Otrobanda's bus station. A small square is the departure point for the large yellow or blue buses and the smaller vans to the west side of the island and to Punda (the buses travel along the long ring road to Punda). If you turn into the narrow alley on the right side of the bus station, you will see a golden yellow building with white woodwork (Sebastopolstraat 26-28) immediately on the left. It dates from the mid-18th century; again, note the beautiful gables that characterize this period.

- Walk straight down one of those small alleys that are typical of Otrobanda. Here you will see renovated houses, stores and another, somewhat larger lottery store with colorful paintings on the wall. Then you come to the narrow Conscience Lane - one of the most traditional streets of this district. A small detour to the right will lead you to the back of a large gray building: the Roman Catholic Santa Ana Church. It is said that the Conscience Alley (literally "Conscience Alley") owes its name to latecomers who sneaked into the church through this alley with a guilty conscience. Curaçaoans also call the alley 'Hanchi di Bientu' (Windsteeg).

- Walk back to the Conscience Lane. When you walk here, you can really taste the typical atmosphere of this neighborhood. This atmosphere is abruptly interrupted when you walk under the viaduct, which leads to the Queen Juliana Bridge. Although the bridge has provided a much better traffic flow between the two parts of Willemstad, the highway runs through the heart of Otrobanda.

- Just past the viaduct on your right is La Moda de Paris, a traditional tailor store that has provided clothing for many famous Curaçaoans. A little further on the corner you will see some beautiful signs on the wall with the original street names. A little to the right on Rifwater Street you will find the Four Alleys Café, where art exhibitions and antique shows are held.

- If you continue to walk through the Conscience Lane, you will enter a section that was completely renovated in the mid-1980s. This was one of the first successful attempts to get people to live in the heart of Otrobanda again.

- Turn left at the end of the Conscience Alley, you will pass more renovated buildings. At the end of the alley is the Sentro di Bario Otrobanda (Otrobanda Neighborhood Center), which is intended to revitalize this district. The building is constructed in a simpler architectural style, without curled gables, characteristic of the early 19th century. In the spacious garden is a small playground.

- Turn right at the Sentro di Bario and walk down St. Martin's Lane, past more renovated houses. At the end of the first block of houses, Zaantjesteeg begins. If you take a detour to the left, you will pass some beautifully restored houses that now house students, hospital staff and local families. The short walk to Zaantjesteeg 44 is well worth it. This magnificent mansion was built in the first half of the 19th century in a simple style with a rectangular roof without gables, just like the Sentro di Bario. Take a short walk into the courtyard and see how well the complex has been preserved; it is now divided into small apartments.

- Leave the courtyard on the left and you will enter a large street, Padre Euwensweg. Turn right and just past the yellow Masonic Lodge you will see another particularly beautiful mansion (white with blue woodwork) that now houses a doctor's office. The building dates from the early 18th century and is a mixture of architectural styles from the 18th and 19th centuries. If you compare this to the Masonic Lodge next door, which was built towards the end of the 19th century, you can clearly see how building styles changed on the island. In the courtyard is a work of art made from car bumpers by the well-known Curaçao artist Yubi Kirindongo. On the outer walls you will see some interesting tile decorations.

- Now return to continue the main route. Walk through Zaantjesteeg past St. Martin's Lane until you can go no further and then turn left. Suddenly you find yourself in a part that has not yet been renovated. Here you will see what the Curaçaoans call "wall cancer": deteriorated facades due to leached salt from the sea sand used in construction. Turn right into the Elleboogstraat and you will arrive on the Breedestraat.

- If you think you have seen enough architecture now, turn right onto Breedestraat, allowing you to stroll past the stores until you reach the waterfront. You will notice that the buildings on Breedestraat resemble those on the main shopping streets of Punda: stores on the first floor, while the upper floor used to be a residence. The buildings are brighter in color and if you look closely you will notice even more differences.