1. Multicultural Heritage: Although most closely associated with the Dutch (the island is officially a constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands), over the last 500 years or so Curaçao has seen invasion/immigration by a diverse collection of cultures. Spanish and Dutch explorers, French and English colonists, Portuguese Jews displaced by the Inquisition and slaves forcibly brought from Africa have blended with the indigenous Arawaks over the centuries to form a Caribbean "stew" that is colorful and fascinating.
2. Civil Rights History: Slavery was an integral, if tragic, part of the growth of Curaçao's prosperity. Learn about this vital part of the island's history at the Kura Hulanda Museum, established by philanthropist Jacob Gelt Dekker. Exhibits poignantly tell the tale of the quest for freedom in a series of historic buildings clustered around a former slave yard.
3. The West's Oldest Synagogue: Most people don't consider the Caribbean as a seat of Jewish culture, but Curaçao's Sephardic Congregation Mikvé Israel was established in 1651. Fleeing a hostile religious environment in their native Portugal, Jewish merchants and traders thrived in the bustling port city of Willemstad. The current building--consecrated in 1732--remains the oldest synagogue still standing and in active use in the Americas. Travelers can attend worship on Friday evenings and Saturdays, or explore the adjacent museum during the week.
Read the full story, originally published on November 16, 2015, on Huffington Post.