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
Historic district of 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
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
Monuments Policy and
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’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
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
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,
a living city, the residential function of the historic
nucleus should be strengthened.
The Island Monuments
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
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
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
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.
Institutions and Organizations