Willemstad – the ‘must-see’ city that is a Unesco World Heritage site

May 5, 2024 Caribbean Culture

The historic port of Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao, stands out like a gem in the colorful crown of the Caribbean.
Punda, Otrobanda and Sint Ana Bay


It is no surprise that its vibrant inner city and harbor were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997 for its cultural heritage and architectural beauty.

Standing picture perfect on the southern side of the island, Willemstad has an exceptional blend of rich Dutch colonial architecture mixed with lustrous Caribbean influences. This is a testament to its rich tapestry and highlights its unique urban landscape.

Punda’s Famous Facade and seawall


The cobblestoned city is divided into the districts of Scharloo, Punda, Otrobanda and Pietermaai which span 190 hectares and includes the harbor of Sint Anna Bay.


It is easy to understand why the Dutch established a trading settlement in Curaçao’s natural deep-water harbor in 1634 and Willemstad has developed over the centuries on this strategic location into a cosmopolitan city, one which you must visit at least once in your lifetime.


At Bon Trade, we take pride and pleasure in regularly shipping cargo from the US to this historic trading post that has evolved into a bustling, modern hub of activity.

Why was Willemstad chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage Site?


Willemstad deserves its status as a Caribbean capital city listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It not only has picturesque qualities. It is also of outstanding universal value.

Original european architecture from the 1600’s


Over 700 of Willemstad’s buildings are protected monuments. They vividly reflect the influences from the Dutch, African, Portuguese and Spanish over several centuries.


The city has many historic landmarks. Included in the list is Fort Amsterdam, built in 1634.  Another famous landmark is the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, which is the oldest synagogue in the western hemisphere.  There are also the Museum Kurá Hulanda and the Curaçao Museum.  These historical buildings all tell the tale of a diverse, multifaceted history.


What makes Willemstad Special:
The iconic Queen Emma floating bridge that still connects the two halves of WIllemstad



Willemstad is a city of two halves. The iconic Queen Emma Bridge links the oldest part of the city, Punda, with Otrobanda. This further symbolizes the unity and connectivity of this community.




UNESCO selected Willemstad as a World Heritage Site because of the town’s planning and architectural qualities. Willemstad is also a prime example of how colonies developed organically in the Caribbean by combining European traditions with influences from the Americas and Africa. This happened over 3 centuries.

The city’s music scene, carnival, buzzing businesses and local festivals highlight the dynamic spirit of Curaçaoan people.

This globally recognized UNESCO status means that Willemstad and Curaçao will be preserved for future generations while tourists and traders continue to flock to celebrate its heritage, cultural resilience and architecture.

Why not be one of them and discover the rich historical details that define Curacao? You will not be disappointed.


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Bon Trade Intl. Corp. was founded in 1984 to be a service company in support of the export trade to the Caribbean from South Florida, The Gateway to the Caribbean and South America.

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