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Dutch Caribbean Architecture

Established in the mid-1600s, Willemstad’s covey of structures recall the quaint designs of Amsterdam, with exquisite 17th and 18th century Dutch colonial buildings not to be found anywhere else outside of the Netherlands.

In time, as Willemstad’s traditional styles were modified to accommodate the island’s dry and breezy climate, Caribbean accents such as verandas, porches, fretwork, and shutters were added. The color scheme was updated as well, introducing a bright, bold palette unheard of in the mother country.

Additional Dutch influences include:

  • Street Layout — Willemstad’s Otrobanda district is full of narrow alleys and wider main streets, reminiscent of 17th-century Dutch provincial towns.
  • Plaza — For centuries, plazas have had many functions — most notably they were used for dining, trading, festivals, and ceremonies. Today, several plazas are in use as open-air markets in Otrobanda.
  • Gabled Roofline — Steep-pitched tile roofs and neck gable ends are hallmarks of classic Dutch urban architecture. These elements sit beautifully in the restored 18th-century mansions of Scharloo and Pietermaai, and in the buildings along Schottegat Harbor.