Monuments of Curaçao

     

Wooden Heritage

 

Apart from formal districts with stylish stone-built dwellings now cherished as monuments, Historic Willemstad also features quarters where wooden cottages abound. These can be found in uphill and less accessible areas. Fleur de Marie and Sint Jago in uphill Scharloo, Brionweg and Quinta in uphill Otrobanda, and Cornet, Cher Asile and Nieuw Nederland north of Oranjestraat east of the historic town are prominent examples.
The wooden cottage or kas di tabla developed from the kas di yerba, the traditional dwelling found in the kunuku, Curaçao’s rural area. It normally features a rectangular floor plan covered with a hipped roof with corrugated iron roofing and in rare cases also ceramic tiles. Its façade normally features a symmetrical lay-out with a central door and flanking windows. Depending on the owner’s status and wealth, the door and windows are either clamped or made up of shutters. The kas di tabla became a popular shelter with the influx of workers from other Caribbean islands who came to work for the oil refinery established on Curaçao in 1916. Gingerbread details on the verandahs of wooden cottages still refer to origin of their first inhabitants as can be seen in Fleur de Marie.

 

 

Public Awareness and Heritage Education

Public interest in preservation has long been weak. The first Monuments Plan (1990) almost entirely focused on its main objective: to save and preserve as many monuments as possible.

A change in the attitude of the community evolved after public outrage over the intended demolition of a landmark monument in the historic district of Punda. This provoked the coming into being of the Pro Monumento Foundation (ProMo) in 1993.

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

With the organization of Monumento Habrí events every two years ProMo aims to bring monuments closer to the people of Curaçao, enhance their understanding and knowledge of the history and architecture of the monuments and make them see the benefits of the restoration of monuments.

Monumento Habrí events were held in 1994 (Historic district of Scharloo), 1995 (Hoogstraat Area, Otrobanda Ariba), 1997 (Alley Area, Otrobanda Abou), 1999 (Historic district of Punda), 2001 (Yzerstraat Area, Otrobanda), 2003 (Scharloo Abou) and 2004 (again Hoogstraat Area, Otrobanda Ariba)

For heritage education a working group has been set up for the preparation of educational packages for elementary and secondary schools.

Apart from ProMo, The Curaçao Monuments Foundation actively supports the promotion of public awareness and heritage education.

Focusing on the youth of Curaçao, the Foundation has produced a half-hour multi-language educational video on monuments for television broadcasts and for heritage education at schools.

The Foundation also issues a monuments calendar each year which has become a very much sought after piece and collector’s item.

Further Reading

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