Cool Culture in Curacao: Fun For the Whole Family
Allison Tibaldi for Taking the Kids
Curacao is a Caribbean island not far from Venezuela. It is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, blending Caribbean and Dutch culture in perfect proportion. The local language, Papiamentu, is a polyglot’s delight. This patois is a lyrical mix of languages including Dutch, Spanish, French, Portuguese and English.
Dutch is the official language and everyone on the island speaks English, so communication is easy. During our recent visit, we found the locals to be incredibly friendly, welcoming and open-minded. If your family is of the non-traditional variety, chances are you will feel right at home.
The Dutch arrived in Willemstad, the country’s culture-filled capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in the 1630s. Dutch colonial architecture in a palette of candy colors adds plenty of panache.
Street art is vibrant in Willemstad and strolling around the town is the best way to view it in all its creative and colorful glory.
Curacao has a history of welcoming diverse cultures, races and religions. The local Jewish community is small but prominent. Fleeing anti-Semitism, the Jewish people started arriving from Europe in the 1650s.
To get a better understanding of this island’s Jewish history, visit Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue and Museum. Consecrated in 1732, it is the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere. It features an unusual Dutch-Portuguese Jewish tradition of a sand-covered floor. The sand is there to remind parishioners of their Iberian Peninsula ancestors, who used sand to muffle the sounds of their Hebrew prayers during the Inquisition, when they were forbidden to practice Judaism.
Read the full post with more great tips, originally published in June 2018, on Taking the Kids.