Monuments of Curaçao


Curaçao Furniture


The antique furniture of Curaçao has a character of its own compared to the furniture of other former colonies in the Caribbean. This was caused by differences in the nature of the relations these colonies had with their mother countries.
The style of Curaçao furniture is a modest one with a sturdy, explicit design. Decoration and ornamentation is limited. Unlike European cabinet-makers, local furniture-makers had to rely on their own skills and materials available. Antique furniture found today, dates from the 19th and early 20th centuries. In the middle of the 19th century Dutch influence on local furniture made way for styles prevailing in America. Apart from cabinets, beds and a variety of tables, a few types are specifically found on Curaçao, like the percha, the free-standing clothes-rack. Typical is also the mesa di kantu, the small side table placed against the wall. Surprising is the close stool or commode chair, called “stilletje” in Dutch, corrupted to its local name stèlchi or stül di rèspèt, courtesy chair.


Beth Haim Cemetery

Beth Haim is the old Jewish cemetery consecrated in 1656 on a site squeezed in by the former plantations De Hoop, Blenheim and Gasparitu, north of Schottegat. Beth Haim has become famous for its sculptured marble tombs. Accommodating some 5000 graves, it is testimony to the rich culture of the Sefardic Jewish community which has gained a prominent place in the wider Curaçao community since.
The first Jewish colonists came to Curaçao in 1651 from Amsterdam to be engaged in the cultivation of land. Between 1654 and 1675 Sefardic Jews originating from Brasil set foot on the island. They established the Mikvé Israël Congregation and built their first synagogue and cemetery in ‘The Jewish Quarter’ as their settlement north of Schottegat was called. Later on they also engaged in trade and commercial activities and settled in and around Willemstad. Descendants from the first Sefardim nowadays still bear the names of the first families who set foot on the island.
Beth Haim Cemetery was expanded several times in the 18th and 19th century reaching an area of over one hectare. In 1880 a new cemetery was built close to the town on Berg Altena.



Institutions and Organizations

For the process of monument preservation on Curaçao, three main fields of responsibility can be identified generally. Each field is the responsibility of one or more institutions and organizations. These fields are:

  • Monument policy development

  • Co-ordination and financing

  • Implementation

These fields with their respective institutions and organizations are summarized in the table below:

Monument policy development Co-ordination and financing Implementation
Monuments Council Urban Redevelopment Secretariat Willemstad Urban  Rehabilitation Corporation
Monuments Bureau Monuments Fund Foundation Curaçao Housing Foundation
    Curaçao Monuments
    Private owners of

The Pro Monumento Foundation has a supporting role in the process of preservation.

Monumentenraad Curaçao ( The Curaçao Monuments Council )

The Monuments Council is an independent advisory body established by law in 1990. Its members are professionals with expertise in areas related to monument preservation. They are appointed by the Island Government.

The Council provides advice on monuments policy matters, criteria for the designation of monuments, appeal by owners on the designation of their property as a monument and on requests for the demolition of monuments.

Monumentenbureau ( The Monuments Bureau )

Established in 1990, the Monuments Bureau is part of the Department of Urban and Regional Development Planning and Housing (DROV).

The Bureau is responsible for the development of a preservation policy, the implementation and enforcement of the Island Monuments Ordinance and for the process of the designation of monuments and their inclusion in the Register of Protected Monuments.

The Bureau coordinates the process to issue restoration and building permits.

Secretariaat Stadsvernieuwing ( The Urban Redevelopment Secretariat )

The Urban Redevelopment Secretariat was established in 1989.
Its main task is to coordinate and tune in programs for preservation and infrastructure within the inner city, currently based on the Urban Development Plan for Willemstad in 2001.

All actors active in the management and development of the Historic Inner City are included in the process of implementation of the Plan using an area-based bottom-up approach with neighbourhood development teams.

Stichting Monumentenfonds Curaçao ( The Curaçao Monuments Fund Foundation )

The Monuments Fund Foundation provides subsidies for the restoration of monuments. The foundation was established in 1992. The Fund’s capital is raised from sources of the government and the private sector.

The Fund has been set up as the main window to the public and prospective clients. Services provided by the Fund are the provision of subsidies and soft loans to owners of monuments, technical guidance of clients during the restoration process and the provision of information and advice to prospective clients, architects and contractors on legal, financial, technical and preservation matters.


N.V. Stadsherstel Willemstad ( The Willemstad Urban Rehabilitation Corporation )

This Corporation was established in 1992 following the recommendations of the Monuments Plan. It has been set up as a business enterprise, making use of public and private funds and subsidies.

As a commercial enterprise, it sets itself to purchase and restore historic buildings and place the restored property on the real estate market. The Corporation’s restored property, in almost all cases, is rented out to commercial institutions such as banks and law offices.


Fundashon Kas Popular ( The Curaçao Housing Foundation )

The Curaçao Housing Foundation is active in the field of social housing. Since the late-eighties the Foundation has acquired quite a number of dwellings for restoration in the ‘Action Areas’ for monument preservation in the inner city.

The Foundation substantially contributes to the strengthening of the residential function of the historic inner city. In recent years new housing complexes have been developed in the old city in a contemporary architectural style which is nevertheless consistent with the grammar of the historical architecture of the old city districts.

Stichting Monumentenzorg Curaçao ( The Curaçao Monuments Foundation )

Until the mid-eighties The Curaçao Monuments Foundation was the sole organization active in the field of monument preservation.
The Foundation’s primary task is to acquire, restore and manage cultural property and save it for future generations.

It further seeks to promote public awareness and interest for Curaçao’s cultural heritage. Established in 1954, the Foundation is the oldest and now largest organization in the field of the preservation of monuments. Currently some 100 historic buildings and building complexes island wide are owned by the Foundation.


Stichting Pro Monumento ( The Pro Monumento Foundation )

The Pro Monumento Foundation, ProMo as it is nicknamed by the public, was established in 1993. The Foundation acts as a pressure group with a watchdog function.

The group continuously monitors developments and projects within the historic areas and alertly takes steps against developers or the government when felt necessary.

ProMo has taken up the task to raise public awareness among the public. In order to achieve this ProMo organizes the highly successful Monumento Habrí events, Open Monuments Days, every two years and takes initiatives to develop heritage education programmes.





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