Colours to prevent headaches
Between the blues of the sky and sea, you'll sea the distinct colors of Curaçao's buildings—part "New World," part "Old World," and completely unique.
It is said that one of the early Dutch governors, under the pretext of medical advice, outlawed buildings being painted pure white, because the reflection of the sun glaring off on them was said to cause major headaches and could lead to eye inflammation or even blindness. However, after the death of this governor, they discovered that he had shares in a local paint company.
Everywhere you look, you’ll see the wide array of lovely, bright colors enhancing the outside walls of Curaçao homes and buildings, particularly in Willemstad—one of the most photographed cityscapes in the Caribbean.
Colorful Dutch Caribbean Town
When we got to the dock for our tour, we were put into taxis and taken across the bridge to the tour. I wondered why they just didn't pick us up at the ship, but I guess that would have made the trip longer. I sat up front and tried to take pictures as we drove over the Queen Juliana bridge - not that I would have wanted to walk up there but I thought it would have been a nice view.
The trolley tour was very interesting. She explained that the old buildings in the Scharloo district were built of coral and rock which had salt in it, and then plastered and painted. But the salt is gradually leached out of the rock, and bubbles appear in the paint so that the outsides have to be painted every year or so. We did not stop at the National Archives which is in Bolo di Bruit known as the wedding cake house, but just drove by for pictures. (top picture)
She also told us the story about the governor who decreed that the buildings should not be white because it gave him a headache, but after he died it was found that he owned the paint factory. We went by the floating market (boats from Venezuela), and...
..after we toured the old city, we went into the Pietermaai Cathedral, where she told us
about the pipe organ (pipes from 2 meters to 2 cm) and the story of the Venezuelan doctor who did 'laying on of hands' i.e. faith healing. When he died people made statues of him, and the statues were said to have the power to produce miracle cures 'if you believe'.. A statue of him is in the church.
We passed by the Mikve Israel Emanuel Synagogue, the oldest in continuous use in the Western hemisphere. We also saw a former synagogue which had been built when the synagogue split temporarily between Orthodox and Reform - it is now the offices for the judges and prosecutors of the court system.
She told us that 'Baratillo' meant 'SALE', so if we saw that in a shop window, we should know that there was a sale inside.
We finished up at Fort Amsterdam which was built in 1635. The cupola on the roof was built later. This building is now used for government offices. It is another of those buildings which has to be repainted every year or two. During a war, the US Navy shelled the fort and one of the cannon balls went over the fort wall and landed in the wall of this building. It is still there, and they repaint it black whenever they paint the building.
Then we had the option to walk up and take the free pedestrian ferry (which operates only when the pontoon bridge is open, and since the pontoon bridge is under reconstruction, the ferries operate all the time) or to take a taxi back. Bob wanted to take the taxi (which was free with the tour) so we were back at the ship soon after 10:15.
Next: Discover Curacao tour