Monuments of Curaçao

     

Historic Districts

 

Pietermaai historic district (9 hectares) is a linear development along the seashore east of Punda. It was gradually established in the 18th and 19th century at a great distance from the ramparts of Willemstad, allowing for the field of fire from the town’s batteries. It developed along ‘het Stenen Pad’, the stone path, leading to the area east of the town. Here the elite of shipmasters, high-ranked Dutch administrators and Jewish families settled in stately town houses and urban villas. In 1877 ‘orkan grandi’, a devastating hurricane, swept away parts of Pietermaai. 18th Century structures therefore are an exception in historic Pietermaai.
Presently a troubled area, home to ‘chollers’, homeless drug addicts, owners are reluctant to improve their houses in spite of the monument status of the majority of the buildings. Several projects, presently under way, are expected to lift derelict Pietermaai out of its stiff deadlock. The restored part of Pietermaai will accommodate apartments and is expected to generate new development which will bring new life to the historic district.

Historic district of Scharloo

Scharloo (25 hectares) gradually transformed from a plantation into a residential area in the second half of the 19th century. First developed south of Scharlooweg facing the waters of Waaigat, Scharloo became a residential district of great prominence for the greater part inhabited by Jewish merchants and shop-owners in Punda. With its stately mansions, East-Scharloo presently is a prestigious location for offices contrary to West-Scharloo or Scharloo Abou as it is now called, which is in the process of being turned into Willemstad’s maritime and entertainment district.
The strong potential of Scharloo Abou to become a lively entertainment district is already showing off. In 1997 former Hotel Venezuela was turned into the Maritime Museum and adjacent Hotel Caracas successfully became a centre for cultural activities in 2001. The uphill area of Fleur de Marie dotted with wooden cottages adds a typical couleur locale to formal Scharloo Abou.

Picture Courtesy of ProMo

 

 

Monuments Policy and Strategies

Conservationists on Curaçao have gone a long way. For long the preservation of Curaçao’s monuments was in the hands of a few individuals scorned as elitist hobbyists. Public interest in preservation was weak.

The development of a coherent package of legal and financial instruments for the protection of monuments started in 1988.

In this year a protocol for cooperation called ‘Action Willemstad’, was signed between The Island Territory of Curaçao, The Netherlands Antilles and The Netherlands to develop a strategy to stimulate and effectively control the sound development of Historic Willemstad.

Willemstad’s inner city had fallen into a stage of crisis. ‘Action Willemstad’ was established to turn the tide and to instantly bring the process of rapid dilapidation of the historic inner city to a halt.

Proposed actions included:

The Monuments Plan for Curaçao

The first Monuments Plan for Curaçao was approved in 1990. It argued that social and economic factors had triggered the inner city’s decline and that the lack of legal and financial instruments for protection, conservation and restoration had caused the rapid pace of decay.

The Plan aimed at a monuments policy for the conservation of both monuments and the historic urban fabric and townscape. It advocated the regeneration of the inner city to become a lively centre for living, working and shopping again, and an attractive place for tourists. In the Plan the inner city was designated a Protected Historic Townscape. Within this protected zone no demolition of a building is allowed unless a permit was issued.

In 2001 the Monuments Plan was reviewed and followed up by an updated plan ‘Plan di Monumento 2000+’. In this plan the development of public awareness was stressed, the establishment of a Monuments Watch for structural maintenance of monuments proposed and the further development of financial incentives and a revolving fund advocated.

The Island Development Plan

In 1995 the Island Development Plan confirmed the monument status of individual historic buildings and acknowledged the inner city as a Protected Historic Townscape.

The Plan argues that the preservation, rehabilitation and further development of the historic nucleus is crucial for the social and economic well-being of Curaçao as a whole and for the development of tourism in particular.

The historical role of the inner city as a regional business centre and tourist attraction should be stressed more and further developed, and its attractiveness enhanced through the improvement of the city atmosphere, entertainment facilities and recreational function. And, crucial for a living city, the residential function of the historic nucleus should be strengthened.

The Island Monuments Ordinance

With the promulgation of the Island Monuments Ordinance, owners are obliged to keep their property in good repair. This can be enforced in case of wilful neglect by the owner. In turn, the owner is entitled to a contribution in the costs of maintenance and repair to meet this obligation.

The Ordinance further requires permits for restoration activities. This allows for guidance and control of restoration projects in order to ensure the quality of the restoration.

Similar to listed monuments, non-monuments within the protected townscape are subject to strict regulations, including a ban on demolition unless a special permit has been issued.

The Register of Protected Monuments

The Register of Protected Monuments is a public record of listed monuments. It is part of the Island Monuments Ordinance and is placed in custody of the secretariat of the Monuments Council.
This register, in the Dutch language, can be consulted online.

Institutions and Organizations

Until 1990 only two organizations were active in the field of monument preservation, that is The Curaçao Monuments Foundation and the Curaçao Housing Foundation.

To make the preservation efforts work, a Monuments Council, a Monuments Bureau and an Urban Redevelopment Secretariat for the historic inner city, and organizations such as a Monuments Fund, and an Urban Rehabilitation Corporation were established.

Go to Institutions and Organizations

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