History

Otrobanda is part of the capital of Curaçao, Willemstad. Due to its impressive colonial buildings its earned itself a place on UNESCO’s world heritage list.

Ser’i Otrobanda, was built on the former hinterland of the Westwerf, a 19th century shipyard, distinguishing itself from other area’s by its neoclassical architectural style and a well thought out urban development structure. Although early on, locations were often indicated by the name of the owner, in 1866 a street name committee decided on official street names.

From the 19th century one, the neighborhood was home to prominent families, dockworkers, seamstresses. Nowadays the neighborhood houses families from all walks of life, business, interns and tourists.

We welcome personal stories to our website, about people who lived here, events that took place and historical matters that should never be forgotten. Please click here to tell your story.

The development of Otrobanda

Untitled-6Otrobanda is part of the capital of Curaçao, Willemstad. Due to its impressive colonial buildings it earned itself a place on UNESCO’s world heritage list. Until the beginning of the 18th century there were only a few slave huts on the western side of the St.Anna Bay. At that time Otrobanda was called ‘Westwal’. People were not allowed to build on the other side because the firing range of the Fort Amsterdam cannons had to be kept free.

In 1707, Mathias Beck, the director at that time, changed this and proposed to the Heeren X to parcel out the Westwal. Beck did stipulate some restrictions: people were only allowed to build storehouses or modest homes of no more than 1 floor.

From that moment on, this ‘suburb’ grew quickly. According to a report from 1774 by director Rodier, there were 300 houses on the other side of the bay, just as many as in Punda.

In 1798 this increased to 392 houses and many lean-tos that were built on the premises of the bigger houses, often for family members.

All those changes led to a name change of the Westwal and in the course of the 18th century, people started using ‘Overzijde’(Other Side). This name remains on paper until the 20th century, but in practice people were already using the Papiamentu name Otrobanda, from the 18th century already.

In the course of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century simple houses were built in Otrobanda as decreed. However, there were exceptions. Some beautiful houses were built on the best sites, especially on the Rifwaterstraat, the Havenstraat and further up on the waterfront.

Seru di Otrobanda

Untitled-3Ser’i Otrobanda, was built on the former hinterland of the Westwerf, a 19th century shipyard, distinguishing itself from other area’s by its neoclassical architectural style and a well thought out urban development structure. Although early on, locations were often indicated by the name of the owner, in 1866 a street name committee decided on official street names.

From the 19th century on, the neighborhood was home to prominent families, dockworkers, seamstresses.

The area to the North of Breedestraat was developed much later than the area between Rifwater and Breedestraat. This area came to be known as the ‘stegengebied’ (area of alleys). It was once described as “a mass of alleys that leads up to a hilly area where you can find notable and less notable houses”. One of those “notable houses” must have been Villa Belvedère, the gorgeous house that De Rouville built in 1865 on this plateau.

The house was built in the American Neoclassical style from the 18th century and to a large extent this style functioned as a model for the architectural style in Curaçao in the second half of the 19th century.

In the course of the 19th century, several wealthy families settled on the Ser’i Otrobanda, where they built spacious mansions on large lots, the so-called ‘kurá’ (yard).

Although these kurá’ s could also be found in Otrobanda Abou (such as the Kurá di Baka), Ser’i Otrobanda is the real area of kurá’ s.

These kurá’ s originated with the purchase of a large plot of land where people would build a mansion surrounded by smaller houses, partially intended for the service staff but partially also for rent.

Some well-known kurá’ s are : Kurá’i Shon Fil and Kurá’i Shon Toms which were named after the owners.

It’s also important to mention the part of Ser’i Otrobanda that is near the harbor, because of the historic role that the Pleizierhuisje (House of Pleasure) that used to be there played at the beginning of the 19th century. The Pleizierhuisje (House of Pleasure) was a two-story square building located on the Seru di Motètè (Motet Hill), named after Abraham de Motet who got a plot of land on that hill in 1709. The Pleizierhuisje was called like that because it originally had a recreational function.

It was in this house with a garden on a ‘barren rocky ground’ that Simon Bolivar stayed during his two-month stay in Curaçao in 1812. From here he walked on a daily basis to the Octagon, where his sisters, also exiled in Curaçao, lived with an aunt.

 

We welcome personal stories to our website, about people who lived here, events that took place, historical matters that should never be forgotten.

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