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Willemstad Origins

The Origins Of Willemstad, Curacao

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A much-debated question is when and for whom the city of Willemstad was named. According to one historian, Willemstad was named after Stadhouder (stadtholder) William II. But a second historian, who made a very deep study of Willemstad, thinks that the city was named after Stadhouder William III, who occupied this position in 1672 and in 1688, became King of England.

The naming of Willemstad could have been related to the fact that in 1674, the new West Indian Company was instituted. In 1675 Willemstad was declared a free port in the hope this would stimulate the economy. The free port needed a suitable name that would attract people’s attention. The first time the name Willemstad is mentioned in the archives was in 1680.

Willemstad, capital of Curaçao, is one of the world’s richest cities in culture and diversity. The city itself is actually divided in two sections — Punda and Otrobanda — connected by the Queen Emma pontoon bridge. Both sections provide visitors with duty-free shopping. Willemstad has a population of 135,000, comprising 55 nationalities.

Like Havana (Cuba) and San Juan (Puerto Rico), Willemstad is a typical port town. However, it is one without a hinterland -- focused on trade with the surrounding colonies, mainly the Spanish colonies on the South American continental coast, but also with French and English colonies.

According to a comprehensive survey by the government monument bureau, there are 750 historic buildings in Willemstad alone, which merit preservation. New scaffolding goes up almost every month. Progress has been astonishing in just 10 years and it is likely that, in the very near future, regions of Willemstad will have regained their former splendor.
 
Escape to the Caribbean’s hidden treasure. Fall in love with Curacao’s world-class diving and beaches, invigorating outdoor adventure, and its capital, Willemstad. Make your travel arrangements today!